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Barcelona van attack leaves at least 13 dead, scores injured

  • A van rammed into pedestrians in a crowded tourist area of Barcelona on Thursday, killing at least 13 people and injuring 100 others
  • The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the incident; two men have been arrested so far
  • Police also said they killed five terrorists during a raid in the town of Cambrils

A terror attack claimed by the Islamic State targeted Barcelona's most famous street on Thursday, killing at least 13 people and injuring more than 100.

A van drove into pedestrians on the Las Ramblas avenue, a top tourist destination, jumping the sidewalk around 5:30 p.m. local time. Of the wounded, at least 15 people sustained serious injuries, Spain's interior ministry said in a press conference.

The perpetrators are soldiers of the Islamic State, the terror network's Amaq news agency has said. Two men have been arrested, Spanish authorities said, but neither detainee is the suspected driver of the van, who reportedly escaped on foot.

The vehicular assault was related to a Wednesday night explosion in Alcanar, an area south of Barcelona, the interior ministry said. Residents of a house in Alcanar were preparing explosives with gas cylinders when an explosion killed one person and injured six others, police told Reuters.

Hours following Thursday's van incident, Catalan police said that they killed five alleged terrorists in the town of Cambrils. The terrorists were linked to events in Barcelona and Alcanar, police said.

Armed policemen stand in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.
Josep Lago | AFP | Getty Images
Armed policemen stand in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.

 'A jihadist attack'

Thursday's event — Spain's deadliest terror attack since the Madrid train bombing in 2004 — was "a jihadist attack," Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, declaring three days of official mourning.

Authorities have urged people to avoid the area around Placa Catalunya in Barcelona. The area was evacuated late Thursday amid ongoing police operations. Officials have cordoned off the popular area, while nearby stores and train stations have been ordered to close.

Trump: 'US will do whatever is necessary to help'

A White House official told NBC News that White House chief of staff John Kelly is aware of the situation and keeping President Donald Trump informed. In a tweet sent out at 2 p.m. ET, the president condemned the terror assault and expressed support for Spain.

U.S. agencies, meanwhile, said they were in contact with Spanish authorities.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

— Reuters, NBC News and The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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