A van has been driven into a crowd of pedestrians close to one of Barcelona’s kosher restaurants, with police confirming that a number of people have been killed or injured. The incident - confirmed by police as a terrorist attack - took place shortly after 5pm local time (3pm GMT).
According to Spanish police, a white van mounted the pedestrianised area that runs along the centre of the crowded La Rambla boulevard and struck several people. Spanish news site La Vanguardia describes the van as having "zig-zagged down the road". It eventually halted outside the Maccabi kosher restaurant, with the driver then fleeing on foot.
Some eyewitnesses reported hearing gunshots.
Early reports suggested that two people had died, but local media later revised the death toll to "at least 13". The number of victims has not been officially confirmed.
A local news outlet gave the number of dead as thirteen.
Police have closed the street and evacuated the area. La Rambla is a well-known tourist destination in Barcelona, with reports indicating that there were crowds of people in the area at the time.
Spanish broadsheet El Pais reports that the attacker fled the scene and that a manhunt began. Some other reports suggested there was more than one attacker and that the alleged perpetrators were holed up in another nearby restaurant.
Richard Verber, senior vice president of the Board of Deputies, said: “We utterly condemn this brutal attack by terrorists intent on murdering and maiming innocent pedestrians in Barcelona. People of all faiths and none must come together to defeat this evil.”
Advice from the British Foreign Office says that "terrorists are likely to carry out attacks in Spain".
In March 2004, co-ordinated attacks on trains in Madrid killed 192 people, the highest death toll from a terrorist attack in Europe since the bombing of a Pan-Am aircraft above Lockerbie in 1988.
Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Madrid bombings, which took place three days before the country's general elections.