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Van Attack In Barcelona Leaves At Least A Dozen Dead, More Than 50 Injured


There has been a van attack in Barcelona. It happened in a tourist-heavy area of the city. This is a developing story, but we are hearing that at least 13 people have died. Dozens more have been injured. A suspected attacker was later killed in a shootout with police, and then ISIS claimed responsibility. The U.S. has offered support to Spain. Reporter Joseph Wilson of the Associated Press has been covering this story, and he joins us now from Barcelona.

And Joseph Wilson, first can you just describe for us what happened, how it was that a van jumped onto a sidewalk and began running over pedestrians?

JOSEPH WILSON: Yes. Well, a white van - it didn't jump onto a sidewalk. Actually Las Ramblas is a - is emblematic, a famous street in this - in the heart of Barcelona, which actually is a pedestrian street. So in the middle, you have a wide pedestrian area where - for walking. On the side, you have the - two lanes for cars. So the van drove down this wide pedestrian street which was full of tourists and also locals at this time of the year. And it ran over people and seemed to - it's been confirmed that it killed 12 people. Originally it was thought it was 13. But they've lowered it to 12. And over 80 people are in the hospital right now.

SIEGEL: And what do we know about the suspect who's - was said to have been killed in a shootout with police?

WILSON: Yes. There is - again, this is a developing situation, so there's a good deal of confusion. The only thing that's been confirmed by authorities is that there have been two arrests. It has not been confirmed that anyone has been killed in a shootout. All their local media reports indicate that. It has been confirmed by police that they - a car driving out of Barcelona ran over two policemen. And then later it was located and stopped by police. And now there's a bomb squad investigating or searching the car for explosives.

SIEGEL: And have the police suggested how many people they think could have been involved in this entire active - this entire attack, either in the execution or the planning of it?

WILSON: No, but the operation is ongoing. So it is clear that more than just the two.

SIEGEL: Describe this part of the city to us. Las Ramblas - this is a beautiful thoroughfare in the center of Barcelona. And it must have been absolutely full of people today.

WILSON: Yes. It's a gorgeous street. I think anybody that's come to Barcelona has definitely walked down this street. And it is full of newsstands. There are even stands where you can buy small pets, flowers. There are a lot of street artists, human statues. And it's lined with trees. It's - on the side, the streets are full of shops and restaurants. And it runs from the big square in the city's center all the way down to the port. And again, it's always full of people. But of course now it is full of tourists, and tourism's a major, major industry here in Barcelona. And that is where all the tourists go at some point on their trip here.

SIEGEL: And right now - things quiet and roped off and access denied...

WILSON: Definitely.


WILSON: Definitely, definitely. The police have roped off the entire area, evacuated it. They recently evacuated anybody who was left inside that had taken refuge inside stores and restaurants. And they have advised people not to go out of their homes, not to go to the area.

SIEGEL: Right.

WILSON: And they closed some of the metro...

SIEGEL: Joe...

WILSON: ...Stations nearby.

SIEGEL: That's AP reporter Joseph Wilson in Barcelona. Thanks.

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