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Spanish prime minister calls deadly Barcelona attack ‘jihadi terrorism’

BARCELONA, Spain -- At least 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured after a van rammed through crowds in the heart of Barcelona on Thursday in what the Spanish prime minister described as an act of "jihadi terrorism."

With the country on edge and the driver of the van on the loose, authorities in a coastal city southwest of Barcelona reported an incident early Friday that was being treated as a possible terror attack.

Catalan police tweeted that an incident in Cambrils led to the parties responsible being "taken down."

The alleged terrorists have been neutralized, Catalan police said, but officials refused to confirm their deaths. Cambrils is a coastal city about 70 miles southwest of Barcelona.

The attack in Barcelona produced scenes of panic and chaos as the van plowed down the renowned Las Ramblas avenue in the early evening.

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"The driver abandoned the van and escaped from the area," Catalan police chief Josep Lluis Trapero said.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy spoke of his grief and offered condolences to the families of the victims.

"I want to also express my solidarity with all of Spain to the city of Barcelona, today hit by jihadi terrorism, like other cities have been in the world." Rajoy said

Two suspects -- one from Morocco, one from the Spanish enclave of Melilla -- were arrested, Trapero said.

One suspect was arrested in Alcanar, about 120 miles southwest of Barcelona.

In an incident that Trapero said is connected to the attack, one person was killed in an explosion at a house in that city. But Trapero didn't say whether the arrest and explosion were tied to each other.

He did say the victim is Spanish and was not on police radar.

The other suspect was arrested in Ripoll, about 68 miles north of Barcelona and 186 miles from Alcanar.

Authorities said 15 of the injured were in serious condition.

One Belgian was killed in the attack, Belgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jose de Pierpont said.

Barcelona officials ordered all public events to be canceled, and metro and train stations in the area were closed.

Reports of the incident emerged on social media about 5 p.m. (9 a.m. MDT). Photographs and videos showed people fleeing the area. About two hours later, police confirmed a terror attack.

It was the latest in a series of attacks in Europe in which vehicles have been used to mow down pedestrians in public spaces. More than 100 people have died in similar attacks in Berlin; London; and Nice, France.

ISIS' media wing, Amaq, said the perpetrators of the Barcelona attack were "soldiers of the Islamic State." However, ISIS has not explicitly claimed responsibility.

Catalan police said they were continuing to hunt for the perpetrators and that the force had activated its terror response protocols.

Unconfirmed reports suggested the suspects may have been attempting to reach a getaway vehicle.

Catalan police later tweeted that a driver had run over two police officers at a security checkpoint in Barcelona and that the driver had been found near the city.

The two officers suffered minor injuries and did not need hospital treatment, police said. It was unclear whether that incident was related to the terror attack.

Spanish media earlier reported that two armed men had entered a restaurant. But Catalan police dismissed rumors the attacker had been holed up near Las Ramblas and said there "was never a hostage situation."

As the incident unfolded, police told everyone in the vicinity of Placa de Catalunya and Las Ramblas to remain indoors until told it was safe to go outside.

Footage posted to social media by witnesses showed chaotic scenes with people lying in the street, apparently dead or injured.The promenade passes by kiosks, flower sellers, pavement cafes and bars. It includes a number of the city's most popular sites.