President Donald Trump has responded to the terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain on Thursday, vowing to help Spanish authorities. At least 13 people were killed and 100 injured when a white van plowed into a crowd on the popular La Rambla boulevard.
“The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you,” Trump wrote.
The Associated Press reports that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also offered Spanish authorities help. He added that the attack “has the hallmarks of what appears to be yet another terrorist attack.”
Other world leaders have also condemned the attack. French President Emmanuel Macron wrote, “All my thoughts and solidarity of France for the victims of the tragic attack in # Barcelona. We remain united and determined.”
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani wrote, “My heart goes out to the victims of the attack in # Barcelona and their families. Full support to authorities. EU united in defense of peace.”
“My thoughts are with the victims of today’s terrible attack in Barcelona and the emergency services responding to this ongoing incident. The UK stands with Spain against terror,” U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security also issued the following statement:
Trump’s statement was uncharacteristically delayed. It came after his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, issued a statement. “Thoughts and prayers to #Barcelona,” she wrote on Twitter. House Speaker Paul Ryan also issued a statement, tweeting, “Pure evil in #Barcelona. We stand with the people of Spain, and send our prayers to the victims of this horrible terrorist attack.” But just after his first response to the Barcelona attack, he tweeted a reference to a debunked legend.
“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught,” Trump wrote. “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” The “General Pershing” Trump mentioned is General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. In the past, Trump has cited a false myth that Pershing dissuaded Muslim terrorists in the Philippines by burying their bodies with pigs.
Shortly after the attack, the White House confirmed to the Associated Press that Trump was briefed on the situation. The President is in Bedminster, New Jersey on a working vacation.
Trump has previously reacted quickly to terrorist attacks in Europe. However, in defending his delayed response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump stressed that he doesn’t like making statements before he has all the facts. “I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement,” Trump explained.
The attack began when a white van drove into an area crowded with tourists in Barcelona. Spain’s El Pais reports that police confirmed at least 13 are dead and about 20 others are wounded. Catalan Interior Minister Joaquim Forn tweeted that 13 people are dead and over 100 wounded.
A security official told the Washington Post that the man who rented the van turned himself into officials. Catalonia police confirmed that they have detained two men, but neither of them are the driver of the van.
Spain’s El Pais reports that the man first identified as a possible suspect – Dris Oukabir – turned himself in to police to report that his ID was stolen. Investigators now believe that his brother, 18-year-old Moussa Oukabir, was actually the driver.
Graphic videos from the scene posted on Twitter and Facebook showed victims laying on the street, with medical teams and others rushing to help. There was also a second vehicle used by the attackers, and police told TV3 that vehicle was found in Vic, a city near Barcelona.
“I heard a crowd screaming. It sounded like they were screaming for a movie star,” witness Tom Markwell told the BBC. “I saw the van. It had already been busted on the front. It was weaving left and right, trying to hit people as fast as possible. There were people lying on the ground.”
NBC News reports that ISIS said the attackers were Islamic State soldiers, but there’s no evidence to support that.