Deadly Barcelona attack is worst in a day of violence in Spain

Updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri August 18, 2017
BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17:  A damaged van, believed to be the one used in the attack, is surrounded by forensics officers in the Las Ramblas area on August 17, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Officials say 13 people are confirmed dead and at least 50 injured after a van plowed into people in the Las Ramblas area of the city.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
PHOTO: David Ramos/Getty Images
BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 17: A damaged van, believed to be the one used in the attack, is surrounded by forensics officers in the Las Ramblas area on August 17, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. Officials say 13 people are confirmed dead and at least 50 injured after a van plowed into people in the Las Ramblas area of the city. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:51
Witness describes 'immediate carnage' in Spain
A policemen stand as he blocks the street to a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA        (Photo credit should read PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images
A policemen stand as he blocks the street to a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PAU BARRENA (Photo credit should read PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:40
Witness: People were screaming in terror
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:43
Police identify suspect in Spain attacks
People stand next to flowers, candles and other items set up on the Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona as they pay tribute to the victims of the Barcelona attack, a day after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 100 on August 18, 2017. 
Police hunted for the driver who rammed a van into pedestrians on an avenue crowded with tourists in Barcelona, leaving 13 people dead and  more than 100 injured, just hours before a second assault in a resort along the coast. / AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT        (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
People stand next to flowers, candles and other items set up on the Las Ramblas boulevard in Barcelona as they pay tribute to the victims of the Barcelona attack, a day after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 100 on August 18, 2017. Police hunted for the driver who rammed a van into pedestrians on an avenue crowded with tourists in Barcelona, leaving 13 people dead and more than 100 injured, just hours before a second assault in a resort along the coast. / AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:08
Barcelona attack: Flowers, candles and tears
A woman gestures as she is escorted out by Spanish policemen outside a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 80 on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.
PHOTO: PAU BARRENA/AFP/Getty Images
A woman gestures as she is escorted out by Spanish policemen outside a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 80 on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.
Now playing
02:17
Timeline of attacks in Spain
A person is helped by Spanish policemen and two men after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.
A driver deliberately rammed a van into a crowd on Barcelona
PHOTO: NICOLAS CARVALHO OCHOA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
A person is helped by Spanish policemen and two men after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing at least 13 people and injuring around 100 others on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. A driver deliberately rammed a van into a crowd on Barcelona's most popular street on August 17, 2017 killing at least 13 people before fleeing to a nearby bar, police said. Officers in Spain's second-largest city said the ramming on Las Ramblas was a "terrorist attack". The driver of a van that mowed into a packed street in Barcelona is still on the run, Spanish police said. / AFP PHOTO / Nicolas CARVALHO OCHOA (Photo credit should read NICOLAS CARVALHO OCHOA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:30
Witnesses describe Barcelona attack
Now playing
01:09
Pence: Images of Barcelona attack sicken us
Barcelona van attack graphic video_00011110.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
Barcelona van attack graphic video_00011110.jpg
Now playing
02:02
Video shows bodies on ground after van attack
PHOTO: @carlos_tg_32_/Instagram
Now playing
00:36
Witness sees 'a bunch of people dead here'
Barcelona car attack
PHOTO: CNN
Barcelona car attack
Now playing
01:10
Police: Van plowed into crowd in Barcelona
A person is stretched out of a mall by medical staff members in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017.
Police in Barcelona said they were dealing with a "terrorist attack" after a vehicle ploughed into a crowd of pedestrians on the city
PHOTO: JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images
A person is stretched out of a mall by medical staff members in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, injuring several persons on the Rambla in Barcelona on August 17, 2017. Police in Barcelona said they were dealing with a "terrorist attack" after a vehicle ploughed into a crowd of pedestrians on the city's famous Las Ramblas boulevard on August 17, 2017. Police were clearing the area after the incident, which has left a number of people injured. / AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:53
Witness: Barcelona scene extremely distressing
Investigators inspect a truck following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. 
Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday when a suspect plowed a vehicle into a bike and pedestrian path in Lower Manhattan, and struck another vehicle on Halloween, police said. A suspect exited the vehicle holding up fake guns, before being shot by police and taken into custody, officers said. The motive was not immediately apparent.

 / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT        (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
Investigators inspect a truck following a shooting incident in New York on October 31, 2017. Several people were killed and numerous others injured in New York on Tuesday when a suspect plowed a vehicle into a bike and pedestrian path in Lower Manhattan, and struck another vehicle on Halloween, police said. A suspect exited the vehicle holding up fake guns, before being shot by police and taken into custody, officers said. The motive was not immediately apparent. / AFP PHOTO / Don EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:06
Vehicles as weapons: A disturbing trend
psychology of terror sanjay gupta nws orig_00002811.jpg
PHOTO: ISIS
psychology of terror sanjay gupta nws orig_00002811.jpg
Now playing
01:25
The psychology of terror
(CNN) —  

Spain saw one of its most violent days in recent memory as a spate of incidents throughout the country appeared to be connected to a terror attack Thursday in Barcelona that left 13 people dead and more than 100 injured.

Authorities said they are working under the assumption that two other deadly events, a terrorist incident in the seaside city of Cambrils and a house explosion farther down the coast in Alcanar, were linked to the van attack in Barcelona that had ISIS taking credit.

Also Thursday, two police officers in Barcelona were hurt when they were hit by a car, but police were unsure whether that was related to the other incidents.

The deadly events began in the early evening with a van plowing through crowds on the renowned Las Ramblas avenue, a popular tourist section of Barcelona. Authorities said of the 80 people taken to hospitals, 15 were seriously hurt.

As police searched for the van driver, Spain’s Prime Minister called it an act of “jihadi terrorism.”

Here are the latest developments in a tragic day:

• Two suspects – one from Morocco, one from the Spanish enclave of Melilla – were arrested in connection with the Barcelona attack, Catalan Police Chief Josep Lluis Trapero said.

• One suspect in the Barcelona attack is on the run. “The driver abandoned the van and escaped from the area,” Trapero said.

• About 115 kilometers to the southwest, there was a second attack early Friday. Catalan police tweeted that five suspected terrorists were killed in Cambrils. Emergency officials said six civilians and a police officer were injured.

• One person was killed in an explosion at a house in Alcanar, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of Barcelona.

• Catalan police said early Friday they are “working under the hypothesis that the terrorists taken down in Cambrils were related to the events that took place in Barcelona and Alcanar.”

• A driver ran over two police officers at a security checkpoint in Barcelona, police said, and the driver was found near the city. The two officers suffered minor injuries and did not need hospital treatment, police said. It was unclear whether that incident was related to the terror attack.

• ISIS’ media wing, Amaq, said the perpetrators of the Barcelona attack were “soldiers of the Islamic State.” However, ISIS has not explicitly claimed responsibility.

The Barcelona attack was one of the most deadly in Spain since more than 190 people were killed in a March 2004 attack against commuter trains.

Terror in the streets of another European city

It was the latest in a series of attacks in Europe in which vehicles have been used to mow down pedestrians in public spaces. More than 100 people have died in similar attacks in Berlin, London and Nice.

Reports of the incident emerged on social media about 5 p.m. (11 a.m. ET). Photographs and videos showed people fleeing the area. About two hours later, police confirmed a terror attack.

As the incident unfolded, police told everyone in the vicinity of Plaça de Catalunya and Las Ramblas to remain indoors until told it was safe to go outside. Footage posted to social media by witnesses showed chaotic scenes with people lying in the street, apparently dead or injured.

Information about most of the victims has not been released, but one Belgian was killed in the attack, Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jose de Pierpont said.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy spoke of his grief and offered condolences to the families of the victims.

“I want to also express my solidarity with all of Spain to the city of Barcelona, today hit by jihadi terrorism, like other cities have been in the world,” Rajoy said.

Witness reports gunshots

One witness told local media the situation was “very tense” and that all surrounding shops were evacuated. The witness said at least eight ambulances were at the scene. Emergency services said the area had been cordoned off and all public transportation stopped.

Another witness who was hiding in a shop nearby heard gunshots, according to state-run broadcaster TVE24. A third said he saw a van driving “around 80” kph, or 50 mph. He said “there is no doubt it was intentional,” according to TVE24.

Ali Shirazinia, who was cycling alongside Las Ramblas at the time, told CNN he heard “a lot of screams” and saw the crowds split along the busy promenade.

READ: Barcelona attack witness saw people ‘flying into the air’

Then he heard what sounded like the driver flooring the accelerator and saw a white van with blue markings come hurtling down the street. “It literally came right down the Ramblas and ran into people on every side,” he said.

“The Ramblas is full of pedestrians, street merchants, street performers, and I saw people flying into the air and everyone was running into the shops on either side of the Ramblas, a lot of people were shocked.”

Tourist Susan McClean told CNN she saw a “tidal wave” of people running away from Las Ramblas after the incident.

She ducked into a nearby shop and the shutters were pulled down while police sped toward the scene.

“There was clearly a lot of distress,” she said.

McClean said she returned to her hotel one street away after leaving the shop.

An injured person is carried in Barcelona on Thursday.
PHOTO: Oriol Duran/AP
An injured person is carried in Barcelona on Thursday.

Two arrests, one deadly explosion

Two suspects who were arrested were taken into custody hundreds of kilometers apart.

One suspect was arrested in Alcanar, around 200 kilometers (120 miles) southwest of Barcelona.

Also in Alcanar, one person was killed in an explosion at a house, Trapero said, adding that incident was connected to the Barcelona attack. But Trapero didn’t say whether the arrest and explosion were tied to each other.

He did say the victim is Spanish and was not on police radar.

The other Barcelona suspect was arrested in Ripoll, about 110 kilometers (68 miles) north of Barcelona and 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Alcanar.

Government officials respond

The Catalan regional government said it was holding an emergency meeting to discuss the incident.

To facilitate police operations, the Catalan emergency services urged people via Twitter to avoid going out or undertaking any other type of movement that was not “strictly necessary.”

The Spanish royal family tweeted: “They are assassins, simply criminals who are not going to terrorize us. All of Spain is Barcelona. Las Ramblas will return to be everyone’s.”

The Union of Islamic Communities of Catalonia expressed “condemnation and repulse” for the Barcelona attack.

“Faced with this criminal fact, the union of Islamic communities in Catalonia reiterates its full commitment to the fight against any type of terrorism, and it is expected that those responsible for these attacks may be detained and brought before the courts as early as possible,” its statement said.

Barcelona officials ordered all public events to be canceled, and metro and train stations in the area were closed.

Police officers are seen near the scene of the attack.
PHOTO: Javier Luengo
Police officers are seen near the scene of the attack.

NATO chief: We stand united

World leaders were quick to voice their condemnation of the attack and offer support to Barcelona via Twitter.

“My thoughts are with all those affected. We stand united in the fight against terrorism,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

US President Donald Trump said: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!”

READ: Trump responds to Barcelona terror attack by spreading debunked rumor

London Mayor Sadiq Khan also gave his support, saying: “London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack in Barcelona “revolting,” her spokesman tweeted. “We are mourning the victims of this disgusting attack in Barcelona – in solidarity and friendship side by side with the Spanish.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker branded the Barcelona attack “cowardly,” adding: “We will never be cowed by such barbarism.”

Las Ramblas is a predominantly pedestrianized street popular among tourists in Barcelona. Extending for about three-quarters of a mile through the center of the city, the tree-lined street is especially crowded in the summer, the height of tourist season.

The promenade passes by kiosks, flower sellers, pavement cafes and bars. It includes a number of the city’s most popular sites.

READ: US VP Pence: Images of Barcelona attack ‘sicken us all’

CNN’s Vasco Cotovio, Steve Almasy, Hilary McGann, Claudia Rebaza, Laura Goehler, Duart