Department of Homeland Security and counter-terrorism officials are in contact with Spanish authorities in the aftermath of the terrorist attack that killed at least 13 people and left more than 80 injured on Thursday at a busy tourist area in Barcelona, Spain, according to DHS officials who spoke with Circa.
DHS spokeswoman Anna Franko, said that the acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke has been briefed on the situation in Barcelona, Spain and remains in contact with U.S. allies in Europe in lieu of the ongoing investigation. A van slammed its way through crowds of people in the well-known area of Las Ramblas avenue. The area was reportedly crowded with locals and tourists who frequent the restaurants and shops in the historic district.
The above message in Spanish was posted on a confirmed ISIS media page on the secure Telegram app.
Islamic State praised the attack on their official Telegram account and have claimed responsibility in statement carried on its Aamaq news agency. Some U.S. Law enforcement officials say the attack bears similar hallmarks of past attacks and the groups of has reportedly called for using vehicles as primary weapons against civilians, followed by secondary attacks using weapons against bystanders.
Catalan Interior Minster Joaquim Forn confirmed at a press conference that 13 people were killed and more than 50 injured. Catalan police are treating the incident as a terror attack and have sealed off the area, according to reports. The city has canceled public events. Metro and train stations are also closed at the request of city officials and emergency services.
Police at the scene in Barcelona after the van crash.
The situation is being closely monitored by Duke, who is being kept apprised of developments, Franko said.
"DHS has reached out to Spanish authorities, and the Department is standing by to support our allies as they respond to and recover from this horrendous attack," Franko added. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and those affected. We will not let terrorism become the new normal. Instead, such acts of violence only harden our resolve to fight back against violent extremists, bring them to justice, and dismantle their networks. DHS will continue its efforts to raise the baseline of our security across the board and to work with foreign partners to help them do the same."
FBI is not currently commenting on the situation as it is fluid and the Spanish authorities are leading the investigation.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson weighs in on the attack in Spain.
State Department officials did not immediately respond for comment, as to whether or not Spanish authorities have asked for assistance from the United States to help with the terror investigation.
Spanish authorities continue to remain vigilant and local authorities have asked people in the Las Ramblas area of the city, where the attack took place to remain on alert, according to reports.
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