Agents dels Mossos d'Esquadra a la Rambla de Barcelona després de l'atac (fotografia: Albert Salamé).

Catalan police organized an anti-terror operation on Friday after a suspected jihadist militant drove a van at La Rambla, in Barcelona, killing 14 people. A white van mounted the pavement of Las Ramblas, the main tourist area in the city, and struck dozens of people at around 5pm on Thursday. Mossos d’Esquadra suspect this was one of multiple planned attacks.

As security forces hunted for the van’s driver, who was seen escaping on foot, police killed five attackers in Cambrils. Six civilians and a police officer were injured in Cambrils when the attackers ran them over in a car, before police shot them dead and carried out controlled explosions. Catalan government said the Cambrils incident was linked to the van attack in Barcelona.

Witnesses to the van attack in Barcelona said the white vehicle had zigzagged at high speed down Las Ramblas, ramming pedestrians and cyclists, sending some hurtling through the air and leaving bodies strewn in its wake.

Before the van ploughed into Las Ramblas, one person was killed in an explosion in a house in Alcanar, where residents there were preparing explosives.

Mossos d’Esquadra had arrested two men, a Moroccan and a man from Melilla, though neither was the van driver. Senior Catalan police official Josep Lluis Trapero said, although two are being held ‘that doesn’t mean that either were the author of the attack’.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said: ‘The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states’

Catalonia’s interior ministry has provided a number for anyone worried about relatives, advising people to call +34 900400012.

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