A local man on holiday in the Barcelona region has described the scene on the busy street in the city centre just hours before terrorists carried out a fatal jihadist attack on pedestrians using a van, and the fear that spread around the city in the aftermath of the attack.
Cllr Noel McCarthy from Fermoy was holidaying in Spain last week and had been in Barcelona on the day of the attack. A few short hours before the attack at La Rambla, a major street in Barcelona popular with tourists, Cllr McCarthy said he had been sitting outside McDonald’s on the street.
14 people were killed in the attack, plus another 131 with non-fatal injuries.
“I went to the Nou Camp that day and I was sitting outside McDonald’s on that street between 12.30pm and 1.30pm. I got the train back from Barcelona to Salou; I was on the 5.15pm train, which didn’t come until about 20 past. After about 15 minutes the train stopped – all the trains were shut down – and then the people there began to hear about the attack in the city. It was unreal.
“Watching it later I could see McDonald’s on the television, where I was sitting outside. There were thousands and thousands of people there; the street was thronged with people. They were just innocent people; they had no hope. It was a really frightening experience,” he said.
Shortly before 5pm last Thursday, August 17th a white Fiat van was driven onto the pavement of La Rambla, crashing into pedestrians for more than 500 metres before coming to a halt.
The driver, 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub, managed to escape in the confusion but was tracked down earlier this week on Monday, August 21st and shot dead by police, following a major manhunt.
A further fatality at Cambrils brought the death toll for the Spanish attacks to 15.