Vehicular terror attack in Barcelona leaves Spain shaken

By: Sara Adams
Impunity Watch News Reporter, Europe

Crowds gather to honor the lives of the 13 victims of the van attack on Las Ramblas. Image courtesy of the New York Times.

BARCELONA, Spain – It was yet another day of terror in the world on August 17th as a van rammed into tourists in Barcelona.

It was the deadliest terror attack in Spain since 2004, when nearly 200 people were killed in an attack on commuter trains in Madrid.

A van plowed into crowds walking on one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist areas, Las Ramblas. 13 people were dead while over 100 were left wounded by the attack.

South of Barcelona, another victim was hit by a second attacker. The victim died from the injuries she sustained in the attack.

Five of the attackers have been shot dead by Barcelona police. Four other suspects have been detained across the Catalan region in Spain.

The attack on Las Ramblas was set into motion when a house in the Spanish countryside was destroyed by a bomb on the previous night. Police suspected the house was part of a terror ring, and that it was used to make bombs. One person died in the explosion. Another was critically wounded.

While terror group ISIS has stated that the attackers were “soldiers of the Islamic State”, they have offered no proof of such.

People from 34 different countries have been reported among the victims. Of those, one 7-year-old boy from Australia remains missing. Australia’s prime minister Malcom Turnbull told the Tasmanian State Liberal Conference that attacks by vehicles are becoming the “new approach to terrorism.”

Indeed, this attack settles in as the sixth of its kind in the past year. Similar terror attacks were carried out in Nice, Berlin, London, and Stockholm all within the past thirteen months.

Vehicles, once considered safe, have become a mode of weaponry unexpected by experts.

One reason for this may be the fact that it is difficult to protect against attacks by vehicles. Automobiles are on every street, and people trust that drivers will follow the rules of the road. Any accidents are considered random, not targeted as an attack.

Turning vehicles into weapons may increase fear and distrust among individuals. Terror groups seek to instill fear into victims, and cars may be seen as a way to increase that fear.

“This kind of attack, using one of the most ordinary objects of daily life, could heighten that effect,” writes Amanda Taub for the New York Times.

Yet these attacks have brought people together, especially in Barcelona. People united on Las Ramblas shortly after the attacks to honor the victims.

“No tinc por!” crowds chanted in Catalan after a moment of silence. Translated, the chant states, “I’m not afraid!”

For more information, please see:

The New York Times – Van Hits Pedestrians in Deadly Barcelona Terror Attack – 17 August 2017

The New York Times – As Vehicle Attacks Rise, an Ordinary Object Becomes an Instrument of Fear – 17 August 2017

NBC News – Spain Terror: American Among 14 Killed in Van and Car Attacks – 18 August 2017

CNN – Deadly Barcelona attack is worst day of violence in Spain – 18 August 2017

BBC News – Barcelona and Cambrils attacks: ‘I’m not afraid’ – 18 August 2017

CNN – Spain attacks: Police hunt Barcelona driver, probe suspected bomb factory – 19 August 2017

Author: Sara Adams

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