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Local Reporter Describes What We Know About Van Attack In Barcelona


We talked earlier today with Fiona Govan. She's a journalist in Barcelona. And we asked her what the local authorities were saying about who did this.

FIONA GOVAN: Well, we were just actually having a press conference from the head of the Catalan police force, who's been telling journalists that they have two people in custody and a third suspect who's being found dead, having attempted to drive through a police checkpoint and hit several police officers with his car. The police officers were unharmed, but the man is now being found dead.

So the police are claiming that they believe they have identified one of the - the man who was driving the van that plowed into the people earlier this afternoon in Barcelona. And it's unclear the role of the other people, whether they were all linked together or whether they planned other attacks that then somehow did not manage to be carried out. It's all - it's developing very fast, and it's not completely clear at the moment what is going on.

MCEVERS: We know that police had asked people to stay away from the part of the city where the attack happened earlier today. What are they telling people now?

GOVAN: Well, it was incredible actually how fast the police moved on the area. Within seconds of that van mounting the pavement and knocking into people, there was a huge police presence. And they just locked down the place, unfortunately not quickly enough to actually detain the driver of the van. He then fled on foot. But very quickly, the whole city was put on lockdown. That center part, the very touristy center part of the city was locked down. There are police everywhere. There are cordons. People were told to stay in their hotels. Go into bars, restaurants. Just keep off the streets. Don't wander around. Forget about sightseeing. You need to stay safe.

Now things have calmed down a little bit, but people are still being told, get off the streets until we know what's going on. Just stay safe. Don't move around unless it's absolutely necessary. And there's a lot of - people are very nervous, as one would understand that they would be after an attack like this.

MCEVERS: Right. People are nervous. What else are you hearing from people there in Barcelona today?

GOVAN: Well, as usual, as we have become very aware of in the aftermath of these attacks, people have pulled together in showing sort of solidarity and comfort really to each other. There's - with so many injured, the hospitals have put out calls to ask for blood donations. And so there are people going to hospitals to donate their blood to help the injured. There are - the taxi drivers have offered free rides to people in the city to get back to their place of safety.

Other people are taking people in. People whose hotels have been evacuated are being invited to go and stay with other local people in the area. And this is in a city that in recent weeks has made headlines because of the pressure of the huge number of tourists in the city. It's really kind of - it's a very big change that we've seen today where suddenly everyone has pulled together instead of pulled apart over the saturation of tourists.

MCEVERS: Fiona Govan is editor of The Local, Spain. It's an English-language news site covering Spain. Thank you so much.

GOVAN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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