August 17, 2017 at 3:07 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
At least 13 dead after van plows into crowd in Barcelona
Barcelona, gay news, Washington Blade

At least 13 people have died in Barcelona, Spain, after a van plowed into a group of pedestrians. (Photo by Bert Kaufmann; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Spanish officials say at least 13 people died on Thursday when a van plowed into pedestrians in Barcelona.

The van struck local residents and tourists who were walking along La Rambla, a pedestrianized street that stretches from Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya to the city’s port. Officials have told Spanish media that more than 100 people were also injured in the incident that authorities are investigating as a terrorist attack.

The Washington Blade obtained a video that shows more than a dozen people — some of whom were covered in blood — lying on the ground on La Rambla. Some of the victims were not moving as paramedics and police officers responded to the scene.

The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities have detained two people in connection with it.

Spanish media reported authorities killed five “terrorists” in Cambrils, a coastal town that is roughly 70 miles southwest of Barcelona, after they drove a car onto a seaside promenade on Friday morning. The attack left a woman dead and six others injured.

El País, a Spanish newspaper, said two of those who were injured are police officers. The men who were killed were also wearing fake explosive belts.

Josue Blen, a gay tourist from Costa Rica, told the Blade he saw what he described as a truck hit people. Blen said he saw “people run in every direction” and buildings were on “lock down.”

“I am in shock,” he told the Blade.

Pablo Salinas Mejías, an LGBT academic and activist from Chile, lives a few blocks away from La Rambla in Barri Gòtic. Salinas told the Blade there are police officers “everywhere” and they have asked local residents not to leave their homes.

“The sirens are nonstop,” said Salinas. “Fear has gripped beautiful Barcelona.”

Barcelona, which is Spain’s second largest city, is located on the Mediterranean Sea in the country’s Catalonia region.

Circuit Festival Barcelona, which is Europe’s largest gay summer circuit party, began on Aug. 5 and is scheduled to end on Sunday. Sitges, which is located roughly 25 miles southwest of Barcelona, is a popular destination for gay tourists from Europe and the U.S.

Thursday’s attack in Barcelona took place less than two months after more than a million people attended the 2017 WorldPride march and parade in Madrid.

Authorities in the Spanish capital closed several streets around the area in which the march and parade took place, banned large trucks and deployed more than 3,000 police officers. No terrorism-related incidents were reported.

“Horrified at reports of truck collision with pedestrians in Barcelona — thoughts with victims & emergency services,” tweeted the Party of European Socialists, which is among the groups that took part in WorldPride in Madrid.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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