Trudeau condemns 'terrorist attack,' Canadians told to avoid Barcelona tourist area

Canadians in Spain are being urged to avoid the Las Ramblas area in Barcelona, where a van has plowed through a crowd in the popular tourist area near the city centre. Global Affairs Canada is also urging Canadians in Spain to let their "loved ones know you are safe."

13 confirmed dead, dozens injured after van hits pedestrians on bustling Las Ramblas pedestrian mall

Armed policemen stand in a cordoned off area after a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 and injuring dozens in Barcelona, Thursday. Canadians in the city are being urged to stay away from tourist areas.

Global Affairs Canada says there are no reports of Canadians among those killed and injured in a terror attack in Barcelona.

Someone drove a van into a crowd on the popular Las Ramblas tourist area near the centre of the city, killing at least 13 people and injuring many more.

Global Affairs says it is ready to assist Canadians in Barcelona as required and is cautioning Canadians to avoid the Las Ramblas tourist area in Barcelona. Anyone who is already there should stay indoors and follow the instructions of the authorities.

The department urged Canadians in Spain to let their "loved ones know you are safe."

"Canada condemns today's terror attack in Barcelona — our hearts, sympathies & support are with the victims and their families," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted.

In a written statement issued later Thursday, Trudeau said he was "deeply saddened by today's terrorist attack in Barcelona."

"While we cannot ignore the outrage we feel, together we must renew our commitment to protect the freedom found in societies that promote unity, openness and inclusion," Trudeau said in the statement.

"Spain, we grieve with you and denounce hate and violence in all of its forms. Canada will continue working with the international community to fight terrorism and build a world where we can all feel safe and secure."

Two arrested

The attack happened shortly before 5:30 p.m. local time.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Spain's Catalonia region, told a news conference two suspects had been arrested.

Spanish authorities say 13 people were confirmed dead and 80 were hurt, at least 15 of them seriously. The latest reports said 23 people were in hospital with moderate injuries and 43 more had been lightly injured.

The attack occurred just over a kilometre from Canada's consulate in Barcelona.

Global Affairs says Canadians in the Spanish city should monitor local media, including social media, for information and can contact the local consulate or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa for help.

Charles Mordret, a Quebecer who spends a lot of time in Barcelona, was not far from the area when he heard something had happened and started going towards it.

"People were coming in the opposite direction and I ended up going into a cafe," Mordret told La Presse canadienne.

Initial reports suggested one of the suspects may have been hiding in a bar just off the popular tourist strip but police later dismissed those reports.

Area cordoned off

Mordret said there were a lot of people on the street when it happened but not anymore.

"There are a lot of police officers. Every street is blocked off and at each corner there's a police cruiser. Helicopters are flying over the area. The streets are empty."

Police have cordoned off the area and metro stations in the neighbourhood have all been closed.

Las Ramblas is a tree-lined pedestrian mall lined with streetside cafes and souvenir kiosks. There are two narrow service roads running along either side of the pedestrian mall.

(Natalie Holdway/CBC)

"Las Ramblas is bit like Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal," said Mordret. "It's the main street, where the tourists are. Whoever did this wanted to cause a lot of damage."

Politicians around the world were expressing sadness at the event, including U.S. President Donald Trump.

Canadian Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted it was a "terrible scene in Barcelona. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. We stand together condemning these horrific acts of terrorism."

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair also said it was "terrible news. We stand with Spain and all those impacted by this terror attack."

with files from CBC News


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