At least 13 confirmed dead after van ploughs into crowd in Barcelona

A van ploughed into crowds in the heart of Barcelona and Spanish media reported at least 13 people were killed, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.

A policeman stands next to an ambulance after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on 17 August 2017. Picture: AFP

BARCELONA - A van ploughed into crowds in the heart of Barcelona on Thursday and Spanish media reported at least 13 people were killed, in what police said they were treating as a terrorist attack.

Regional authorities said one death had been confirmed so far, with 32 injured, 10 seriously. But radio station Cadena Ser cited police sources as saying the death toll was much higher.

Police said they said were searching for the driver of the van who, according to local media, fled the scene on foot.

Spanish newspaper El Periodico said two armed men were holed up in a bar in Barcelona's city centre, and reported gunfire in the area, though it did not cite the source of the information.

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It was not immediately clear whether the incidents were connected.

A source familiar with the initial US government assessment said the incident appeared to be terrorism, and a White House spokeswoman said President Donald Trump was being kept abreast of the situation.

Media reports said the van had zigzagged at speed down the famous Las Ramblas avenue, a magnet for tourists.