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Update On Attacks In Spain


OK, let's get the view now from Spain, which is still reeling from terrorist attacks there. This all started yesterday in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district. A driver rammed a white van through a crowd of people.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What happened? Oh, God.

CHANG: The van reportedly swerved back and forth at high speed chasing down pedestrians, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100 others. The Islamic State claimed responsibility. And early this morning, a second vehicle attack occurred in Catalan. About 70 miles south in the town of Cambrils, a car drove into a crowd, injuring several people and killing one before the attackers were shot dead by police.

Judith Aldabo (ph) is from Barcelona. She was visiting Cambrils with her family.

JUDITH ALDABO: We were just hanging out, and we heard some noises. And we thought it was firecrackers at the beginning. We were very, very close. Actually, my building is very close to the beach. All the streets got closed. And the police with the speaker said, everyone get inside. Don't go out.

CHANG: Let's get an update now from Fiona Govan. She's the editor at the English language newspaper The Local Spain. And she's in Barcelona now. Thank you for being with us, Fiona.


CHANG: So can you just take us through the timeline here starting with the first attack yesterday evening in Barcelona? What happened? What has happened?

GOVAN: So just around 5 o'clock, a white van, a higher vehicle, mounted the pavement in what is the busiest square on the busiest street of the whole of the city. Now, anyone who's been to Barcelona will know Las Ramblas and the Placa de Catalunya. It was actually absolutely heaving with tourists and locals, with shops (unintelligible). And this man drove down the street veering into people, leaving a litter of bodies behind it. And we now know that 13 people died - among them, an Italian, a young child of 3 years old, a Spanish child and some Germans, a Belgian person.

We haven't had the identity of all of those people. But within minutes of that, within seconds really, the whole city was on absolute shut down. There were armed police at the scene. They were cordoning it off, the emergency services were called in. And the wounded were tended to. And things moved very, very quickly from there.

CHANG: There was a second attack.

GOVAN: We heard that there was a second attack at around 2 o'clock this morning from 70 miles south of Barcelona, so quite a way in a busy seaside resort during a busy, busy time of night when people are coming home after a night out. And then a black Audi mounted the pavement and, again, tried to mow people down. Now, the police were very, very quick in stopping that vehicle. And they shot the occupants. There were five men inside of it.

And they were wearing what looked like explosives on their belts. Now, we found out this morning that they actually were fake explosives. But it meant that there was immediately an evacuation of the entire area.

CHANG: OK. Let's go over what do we know so far about the hunt for suspects? Who's been captured or killed and who is still on the loose?

GOVAN: Well, we've had the five men that were in the car in Cambrils were all shot at the scene. There were three men now being arrested in and around Barcelona and Catalunya. And four people are still on the loose, including the man that they believe was driving that van. Now, police have released his name. His name is Moussa Oukabir, and he's the younger brother of a man that's already in custody. He's around 17 or 18 years old.

And he recently had come from Morocco. And he's thought to be the driver of that van in Barcelona. And there's three other people that they're looking for as part of what they believe is a 12-man cell that orchestrated these attacks.

CHANG: Spain does have a history of terror attacks. There's, of course, the Basque national movement, there was the terrible train bombing in 2004. Do you have a sense of why Spain is being targeted now or does this just fit in with the Islamic State's wider strategy in Europe? In 20 seconds we have left.

GOVAN: I think that Spain has been lucky, really, to escape an attack until now because it's often named on the target list because of these claims of the caliphate that Spain was once part of the Muslim empire and there's a movement to reclaim that. So they're lucky to have escaped it until now. But it's still a horrible, horrible shock to have an attack like this in Barcelona.

CHANG: All right, Fiona Govan of The Local Spain. She joins us from Barcelona. Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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