At least 13 people were killed yesterday when a driver deliberately slammed a van into crowds on Barcelona’s most popular street in what police said was a “terror attack”.
The attack, the latest in a wave of vehicle rammings across Europe in recent years, caused panic on the streets of Spain’s largest city and drew condemnation from world leaders.
“We can confirm there are 13 dead and more than 50 injured,” regional interior minister Joaquim Forn said in a tweet.
Catalan police said they had arrested one suspect, and denied earlier reports that the perpetrator was holed up in a bar near the scene.
The famous Las Ramblas is one of Barcelona’s busiest streets, lined with shops and restaurants and normally thronged with tourists and street performers until well into the night.
Police said there had been a “huge collision” between a van and pedestrians on the thoroughfare and a police source said officers were seeking a total of two suspects.
Spain’s royal family condemned the assault in unusually strong terms, vowing that their country would not be “terrorised” by extremists.
Witnesses spoke of a scene of carnage, with bodies strewn along the boulevard as others fled for their lives.
“When it happened, I ran out and saw the damage,” local shop worker Xavi Perez told AFP.
“There were bodies on the floor with people crowding round them. People were crying. There were lots of foreigners.”
Witness Aamer Anwar told Britain’s Sky News television that he was walking down Las Ramblas, which he described as “jam-packed” with tourists.
“All of a sudden, I just sort of heard a crashing noise and the whole street just started to run, screaming. I saw a woman right next to me screaming for her kids.”
Spain had so far been spared the kind of extremist violence that rocked nearby France, Belgium and Germany.
But it was hit by what is still Europe’s deadliest jihadist attack in March 2004, when bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in an attack claimed by Al Qaeda-inspired extremists.
Ethan Spibey, a charity director on holiday in the city, said he and several others had locked themselves in a nearby church after yesterday’s van ramming.
“All of a sudden it was real kind of chaos… people just started running screaming,” he told Sky. “There was kind of a mini stampede.”
Local Tom Gueller, who lives on a road next to Las Ramblas he saw the van speeding along the boulevard.
“It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas,” he told BBC Radio.
A Greek diplomat in the city said three nationals had been wounded, a woman and two children without providing details.
Yesterday’s attack, which followed similar incidents in Britain, Germany and France, drew widespread condemnation.
“The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help,” US President Donald Trump tweeted.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron — whose country witnessed a similar horror when a Tunisian man ploughed a 19-tonne truck through a crowded boulevard in Nice, killing 86 people in July 2016 — said his thoughts were with the victims of the “tragic attack”.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “revolting attack” and British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Twitter that London “stands with Spain against terror”.
The Nice carnage and other assaults including the 2015 Paris attacks were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group.
In another deadly vehicle attack in December, 12 people were killed when a man driving a truck ploughed into a crowd at a Berlin Christmas market.
Spain has emerged as a potential target for jihadists, with extremist websites mentioning it for historical reasons, since much of its territory was once under Muslim rule.
Generally, authorities in Spain — the world’s third largest tourism destination — remain discreet on the terror threat.
But they publicise every arrest of alleged jihadists, most of them detained for propaganda, recruitment for extremist groups or “glorifying terrorism.”
According to the interior ministry, more than 180 “jihadist terrorists” have been arrested since 2015.
Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iran and Syria (ISIS), has claimed responsibility for the attack. “Soldiers” of the Islamic State group carried out a deadly van attack in Barcelona yesterday, the jihadist organisation’s propaganda outlet Amaq said.
“The executors of the Barcelona attack were soldiers of the Islamic State,” Amaq said on its Telegram messenger account, without naming those it claimed were behind the attack.
Amaq said they had launched the attack in response to calls to target states taking part in the United States-led coalition battling the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria.
In a related development, world leaders yesterday condemned the Barcelona van attack, expressing outrage and solidarity with the victims.
The Spanish royal family issued an unusually strongly-worded statement: They are assassins, criminals who won’t terrorise us. All of Spain is Barcelona.”
FC Barcelona said it was “deeply saddened” by the tragedy and the team’s talismanic striker Lionel Messi said separately that people must reject “any act of violence”.
“There are many more of us who want to live in a world in peace, without hate and where respect and tolerance are the basis of coexistence,” he added.
President Donald Trump tweeted: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough and strong, we love you!”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson added: “Terrorists around the world should know — the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice.”
In a statement, the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they were thinking of the victims of the “revolting attack” with “profound sadness”.President Vladimir Putin called for the world to unite in an “uncompromising battle against the forces of terror”.
“We decisively condemn this cruel and cynical crime against civilians,” Putin wrote in a telegram of condolences to Spanish King Felipe VI.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “I send my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, as well as to Prime Minister Rajoy and the people of Spain. My thoughts are with the people of Barcelona.”
President Emmanuel Macron of France voiced “France’s solidarity” with Spanish citizens following what he called “a tragic attack”.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said: “Parisians are at your side. Barcelona and Paris are cities that share love and tolerance. Our values are much stronger than this heinous and cowardly act of terrorism”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted: “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.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the attack “barbaric”, adding: “London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism.”
It was a “cowardly attack against innocent people,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a statement on his Facebook page, calling it a “black day at a place where many people around the world gathered.”
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey strongly condemned the “henious terrorist attack”.
Pope Francis’s spokesman said in a statement: “The Pope prays for the victims of this attack and wishes to express his closeness to all the Spanish people, especially the wounded and families of the victims.”
Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, a star with Spanish premier club Real Madrid, said he was “dismayed” by the attack and voiced “support and solidarity with the families and friends of the victims”.
Rivers Not Fighting FG Over Tax Collection, Wike Clarifies …Introduce Wealth Tax To Check Poverty, Raji Tells Govt
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has said that the state was not fighting the Federal Government or any of its agencies over collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) as being insinuated in some quarters.
This is as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ahmed Raji, called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce Wealth Tax Policy that would make super-rich Nigerians pay deserved tax that would be used to cater for the down-trodden citizens in the country.
Speaking, yesterday, in Abuja at a public lecture entitled: “Taxing Powers in a Federal System” to mark the 60th birthday of Mr Ahmed Raji (SAN), Wike said that the state was only trying to pursue what was right and legitimate within the ambits of the Constitution.
The governor, who represented by the Attorney-General of the state, Prof. Zacchaeus Adangor (SAN), maintained that both Rivers State and the federal governments were co-equal because they both derived their life from the Constitution.
“I have heard a lot of comments being made that we are fighting the Federal Government, there is no desire or any intention of the Rivers State Government to fight the Federal Government.
“The principle of co-equality is fundamental to a federal arrangement, that principle leads to the principle of autonomy; autonomy leads to fiscal autonomy; and fiscal autonomy leads to fiscal federalism; and when you put all the principles together, what it means is that each level of government, whether federal or state is co-equal because none derives its life from the other.
“They both derive their life from the Constitution because they have co-equality.
“That is the fundamental aspect of fiscal federalism, and until we get it, we will continue this journey of talking without result but I think that the court has a role to play, the court can lay this crises and controversy to rest when it makes a pronouncement”, Wike said.
Also speaking at the event, Prof. Abiola Sani appealed to the Judiciary to make definite and definitive pronouncement on the impasse surrounding tax collection in Nigeria’s federal system.
Sani, a professor of commercial law, who was the guest lecturer at the occasion, called on the National Assembly to use the on-going Constitution amendment to bring out clear taxing powers among the three tiers of government.
In his remarks on the excruciating poverty in the country, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Ahmed Raji called on the Federal Government to immediately introduce Wealth Tax Policy to make super-rich Nigerians pay the deserved tax that would be used to cater for the down-trodden citizens in the country.
The Abuja-based senior lawyer said that the suggested tax policy, if introduced and implemented, would make the super-rich Nigerians to contribute meaningfully to government’s purse to bridge the gap between the affluent and super poor in the nation.
Raji, who spoke at a public lecture entitled, “Taxing Powers in a Federal System” in Abuja to mark his 60th birthday, remarked that time has come for government to do real balancing between the rich and the poor in Nigeria.
He argued that in the face of harsh economic situation starring poor Nigerians in the face, the poor need to be subsidised and not to be taxed under any guise so as to balance their anger against the rich.
Raji noted that evidence were sufficient that some super-rich class own personal jets worth $50million each at a time when some families could not afford to eat twice a day, adding that the country cannot witness genuine peace under such situation.
“It is a fact that the downturn in Nigeria’s economy is having harsh and devastating effects on the poor majority Nigerians. The wide disparity between the rich and the poor should be of grave concern to patriotic Nigerians and the way out must be found.
“The gap between the rich and the poor is so much and so offensive that it can lead to break down of law and order at any moment.
“It is in the interest of justice that the super-rich should shed part of their stupendous wealth to cater for the down-trodden masses before it is too late.
“Majority of Nigerians are in absolute poverty. Over 90 percentage of the Nigerian population is in abject poverty and time has come for us, including myself to address the ugly situation.
“Any attempt to pretend that all is well may spell doom for the nation. We will be sitting on a keg of powder if we refuse to address the challenges of the poor masses now”, he warned.
He appealed to the government that the instrumentality of Wealth Tax must be adopted and used to develop the Nigerian nation as done in the United States of America, United Kingdom and France.
The senior lawyer said he opted to use the public lecture to mark his birthday so as to use it to draw attention to some burning issues and challenges that deserve public attention rather than mere merry making.
Buhari Unveils CBN’s eNaira, Today
President Muhammadu Buhari will formally unveil the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the eNaira, today, at the State House, Abuja.
The Director, Corporate Communications of CBN, Osita Nwanisobi, made the disclosure in a statement at the weekend.
The CBN said that the digital currency would be launched with the theme, “Same Naira, More Possibilities”.
According to him, “President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to formally unveil the Nigerian Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the eNaira, on Monday, October 25, 2021, at the State House, Abuja.
“The launch of the eNaira is a culmination of several years of research work by the Central Bank of Nigeria in advancing the boundaries of payments system in order to make financial transactions easier and seamless for every strata of the society.
“Following series of engagements with relevant stakeholders including the banking community, fin-tech operators, merchants and indeed, a cross section of Nigerians, the CBN designed the digital currency, which shall be activated on Monday, October 25, 2021.
“The eNaira, therefore, marks a major step forward in the evolution of money and the CBN is committed to ensuring that the eNaira, like the physical Naira, is accessible by everyone.
“Given that the eNaira is a journey, the unveiling marks the first step in that journey, which will continue with a series of further modifications, capabilities and enhancements to the platforms.
“The CBN will continue to work with relevant partners to ensure a seamless process that will benefit every user, particularly those in the rural areas and the unbanked population.
“Since the eNaira is a new product, and amongst the first CBDCs in the world, we have put a structure to promptly address any issue that might arise from the pilot implementation of the eNaira.
“Accordingly, following Monday’s formal launch by the President, the Bank will further engage various stakeholders as we enter a new age consistent with global financial advancement. The theme of the eNaira is: “Same Naira, More Possibilities.”
Rivers Plans Criminal Proceeding Against Saipem …Accuses Italian IOC Of Breach Of Trust
Rivers State Government is to initiate criminal proceeding against Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited for breach of trust, which led to abandonment of the state’s gas turbine generator unit and accessories in The Netherlands since 2012.
The decision to file criminal proceeding against Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited was taken at the 15th Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Nyesom Wike at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, the Commissioner for Power, Damiete Herbert-Millier explained that due to the abandonment of the gas turbine generator unit and accessories by Saipem, the Rivers State Government had incurred huge lost in terms of demurrage charges and others.
“Consequently, the council unanimously directed the Attorney General of Rivers State to file criminal proceeding against Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited for her role in this ugly incident.”
The State Executive Council also approved the reconstruction of two roads, Oyigbo-Okoloma and Chokocho-Igbodo totaling 46.5km.
The Commissioner for Works, Elloka Tasie-Amadi said the Oyigbo-Okoloma project scope is 19.4km long at the cost of N11.483billion.
He further stated that the reconstruction of Chokocho-Igbodo Road is 27.1km, awarded at a cost of N13.523billion.
According to him, the two projects are expected to be completed within 12 months.
Also speaking, the Commissioner for Finance, Isaac Kamalu, said the council gave approval for the Rivers State medium term expenditure framework 2022-2024.
Kamalu said council also approved the state participation in the Federal Government and Nigerian Governors’ Forum supported bridging finance support facility for subnational economies designed to cushion the impact of the repayment of the bailout.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Projects, Alabo George-Kelly said the council approved the award of contract for the construction of the Rivers State Magistrate Court Complex at the cost of N8.1billion.
He said the scope of the project include, the construction of 24 Magistrate courts, which will be housed in four two storey structure, three floors each.
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