Barcelona van attack kills 13 in agonizing repeat for Europe

The police force for Spain’s Catalonia region says its troopers shot and killed four suspects and wounded a fifth in a resort town south of Barcelona to “respond to a terrorist attack.”

The regional police said on Twitter early Friday that troopers fired on the five suspects in Cambrils, a seaside town about 62 miles from Barcelona.

The regional police said in another tweet that they are investigating whether the Cambrils suspects were wearing explosive vests. Its officers planned to carry out several controlled explosions.

The force says it is working on the theory that the Cambrils suspects were linked to the Barcelona attack, as well as to a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

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A van veered onto a promenade Thursday and barreled down the busy walkway in central Barcelona, swerving back and forth as it mowed pedestrians down and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured, 15 of them seriously, in what authorities called a terror attack.

The late afternoon attack in the city’s Las Ramblas district left victims sprawled in the historic street, spattered with blood or writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Early Friday, Catalan police posted a tweet saying they shot and killed four suspects and wounded a fifth in a resort town south of Barcelona. They said officers “shot down the perpetrators” to “respond to a terrorist attack.” It wasn’t immediately clear from the tweet if the five shot were suspects in the Las Ramblas attack or were allegedly targeting another location.

Spain’s public broadcaster, RTVE, reported that police suspected them of planning to carry out an attack in Cambrils, a seaside town about 62 miles from Barcelona.

The Catalan regional government said citizens from 24 countries were among the people killed and injured during the Barcelona van attack.

Authorities said the dead included a Belgian and a Greek woman was among the injured. Germany’s Foreign Ministry said it was checking reports that German citizens were among the victims.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

Several hours later authorities reported two arrests, one a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan. They declined to identify them.

Trapero said neither of them was the van’s driver, who remained at large after abandoning the van and fleeing on foot. The arrests took place in the northern Catalan town of Ripoll and in Alcanar, the site of a gas explosion at a house on Wednesday night. Police said they were investigating a possible link between the explosion and Thursday’s attack.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported said Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Media outlets ran photographs of Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told the Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

Barcelona is the latest European city to experience a terror attack carried out using a vehicle as a weapon to target a popular tourist destination, after similar attacks in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

“London, Brussels, Paris and some other European cities have had the same experience. It’s been Barcelona’s turn today,” Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia’s government.

Thursday’s bloodshed was Spain’s deadliest attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. In the years since, Spanish authorities have arrested nearly 200 jihadists. The only deadly attacks were bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade but declared a cease-fire in 2011.

“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.

Hours after Thursday’s attack, the police force for Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region said troopers searching for the perpetrators shot and killed a man who was in a vehicle that hit two officers at a traffic blockade on the outskirts of Barcelona. But Trapero the driver’s actions were not linked to the van attack.

Las Ramblas is a wide avenue of stalls and shops that cuts through the center of Barcelona and is one of the city’s top tourist destinations. It features a pedestrian-only walkway in the center while cars can travel on either side.

A taxi driver who witnessed Thursday’s attack, Oscar Cano, said the white van suddenly jumped the curb and sped down the central pedestrian area at a high speed for about 500 yards, veering from side to side as it targeted people.

“I heard a lot of people screaming and then I saw the van going down the boulevard,” another witness, Miguel Angel Rizo said. “You could see all the bodies lying through Las Ramblas. It was brutal. A very tough image to see.”

Jordi Laparra, a 55-year-old physical education teacher and Barcelona resident, said it initially looked like a terrible traffic accident.

“At first I thought it was an accident, as the van crashed into 10 people or so and seemed to get stuck. But then he maneuvered left and accelerated full speed down the Ramblas and I realized it was a terrorist attack,” Laparra said. “He zigzagged from side to side into the kiosks, pinning as many people as he could, so they had no escape.”

Carol Augustin, a manager at La Palau Moja, an 18th-century former palace on Las Ramblas that now houses offices and a tourism center, said the van passed in front of the building.

“People started screaming and running into the office. It was such a chaotic situation. There were families with children,” she said.

Tamara Jurgen, a visitor from the Netherlands, said she and a friend were inside a clothing store steps from the scene and were kept inside until it was safe to leave.

“We were downstairs when it happened and everyone was screaming and running. We had to run up to the roof and throw our bags over a wall,” Jurgen said. “We were all together along this wall and we were scared we were going to have to jump.”

Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau announced a minute of silence to be held Friday in Barcelona’s main square “to show that we are not scared.” The prime minister announced three days of national mourning.

Leaders around the world offered their support and condolences to Barcelona after the attack.

U.S. President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!”

British Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K. “stands with Spain against terror” while French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted Thursday evening: “All my thoughts and solidarity from France for the victims of the tragic attack in Barcelona. We will remain united and determined.”

Spain has been on a security alert one step below the maximum since June 2015 following attacks elsewhere in Europe and Africa.

Cars, trucks and vans have been the weapon of choice in multiple extremist attacks in Europe in the last year.

The most deadly was the driver of a tractor-trailer who targeted Bastille Day revelers in the southern French city of Nice in July 2016, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people died after a driver used a hijacked truck to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

There have been multiple attacks this year in London, where a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and stabbed an unarmed police officer to death in March.

Four other men drove onto the sidewalk of London Bridge, unleashing a rampage with knives that killed eight people in June. Another man also drove into pedestrians leaving a London mosque later in June.

Vehicles used as weapons

Place Date Attack
Barcelona, Spain 8/17/17 A van Strikes tourists and residents in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district.
Stockholm, Sweden 4/7/17 A hijacked truck plows into a crowd of people outside a busy department store causing deaths and injuries.
London 3/22/17 Two are killed along London’s Westminster Bridge by a vehicle. Within minutes a knife-wielding attacker stabbed a police officer outside Parliament.
Melbourne, Australia 1/20/17 A man with a history of mental health and drug abuse issues drove into a street crowded with pedestrians, killing at least four.
Israel 1/8/17 A truck driver rammed his vehicle into a crowd of Israeli soldiers at a popular Jerusalem tourist spot, killing four.
Berlin, Germany 12/19/16 A young Tunisian rammed a truck into a crowded Berlin Christmas market, killing 12. He is later killed in Italy following an international manhunt.
Nice, France 7/14/16 A truck mows down crowds celebrating Bastille Day along a beachfront, killing 86.
Dijon, France Dec. 2014 13 pedestrians are injured by a vehicle. A day later, another vehicle strikes pedestrians in Nantes, killing one. Both suspects had histories of mental illness.
Montreal, Quebec 10/20/14 25-year-old man drove his car into to Canadian Air Force members, killing one. The suspect had been flagged for jihadist ambitions.
Glasgow, Scotland 6/30/07 Two men attempted to crash a blazing Jeep loaded with explosives. The car’s path was blocked and the explosives failed to detonate.

Hatton reported from Lisbon. Associated Press writers Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Albert Stumm in Barcelona and Alan Clendenning in Phoenix also contributed to this report.

Miami-Dade mayor says he didn’t ask for praise on ‘sanctuary’ immigration policy

After President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions praised Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez for not protecting undocumented migrants from deportation, the mayor went out for a bike ride Thursday. 

The Cuban-American former firefighter ignored Trump’s tweet and went out to celebrate the opening of a new bike lane. Trump and Sessions have been pressuring cities choosing to limit their cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

“I didn’t look for any praise or anything,” Gimenez said. 

“Sanctuary” cities follow the spirit of America’s founding principles as a nation of immigrants and refuse to detain undocumented migrants perceived as refugees to help ICE deport them. In some communities, religious leaders view protecting refugees, even when they are undocumented, as a moral obligation. 

While profiling undocumented migrants as the root of America’s ills, Trump vilified cities refusing to cooperate with ICE and fired back with federal funding cuts. Immigration advocates in Miami-Dade criticized Gimenez for giving into the pressure. 

“We applied for a number of federal grants here in Miami-Dade County,” Gimenez said, “and we want to make sure that we are eligible for all of it.”

Gimenez asked the Department of Justice to change Miami-Dade’s status and ordered the Department of Corrections to start complying with requests from immigration authorities.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Gimenez said. “We are talking about people that are being arrested. Most of them are repeat offenders.” 

Immigration advocates disagree. They report an increase in separation of families and a feeling of terror among students and the undocumented community who they say now live in fear under the Trump administration. 

“I leave my home at 5 a.m., I say good bye to my mom and dad and I tell them I love them, because don’t know if I will see them again when I come home at night,” said Tatiana, a 20-year-old from Honduras. “We work hard so I can go to school, and my dream is to take them out of poverty. We are not criminals, but I know that we can be treated like that at any moment. Do you know what it’s like to live with that fear? It’s horrible.”

Raul Quiroga, an undocumented migrant from Argentina, had been in the U.S. for 15 years and was arrested in North Miami after immigration authorities responded to a fender-bender crash in May. He is the father of a teen born in Argentina and a boy who was born in Miami. He remains at Krome Detention Center.

“I found out after school. My mom called me sobbing. At first, I thought my dad was in the hospital because of his gallbladder problem, but then mom said he got detained,” Quiroga’s son said.  “He is an honest person. I never thought something like that would happen to us.”

California, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont have 364 counties and 39 cities belonging to the sanctuary movement. Officials and police departments there choose to cooperate with their communities instead of the federal government. 

“If my neighbor is getting beat up at night, do you think we are going to call the cops? No way,” Tatiana said. “People in Miami are doing their best to go unnoticed.”

Sessions, who says he is concerned about all “illegals,” wants Chicago and other cities around the country to do as Gimenez did. But he and Trump are getting a cold shoulder from Gimenez on Twitter.

Gimenez released a statement critical of Trump’s reaction to the tragedy in Charlottesville just as he was hosting an attorney general who has been dogged by allegations of racism

In his statement, Gimenez added that Miami-Dade is Florida’s most diverse community with over 60 percent of our 2.7 million residents having been born outside the U.S. 

“There is no ambiguity for Miamians,” Gimenez said in his statement. “We draw strength from our diversity and reject the hatred.”

Gimenez then urged Trump to condemn white supremacists and their actions, which “serve to only divide and instill fear among Americans rather than promote love and understanding.”

   

Tense days for undocumented business owners fearing deportation

Maribel Resendiz and her husband came to the U.S. from Mexico, sold cool drinks to workers in the tomato fields of South Florida and eventually opened a bustling shop in a strip mall offering fruit smoothies and tacos. Now she is preparing for the possibility she’ll have to leave it all behind.

Resendiz, who is not a legal U.S. resident, recently turned over control of the business in Florida City to her daughter, a citizen. The once-proud shop owner is so afraid of deportation these days that on a recent morning she was keeping out of sight of customers while her husband was not there at all.

“I am afraid the police will stop me, call immigration, and they will take me away to Mexico,” Resendiz said while cutting fruit for smoothies.

The couple, who came to the United States in 1992 and have not become legal residents, are among a growing number of business owners with the same status who are scrambling to get their affairs in order amid a crackdown on illegal immigration under President Donald Trump.

As many as 10 percent of the 11 million or so immigrants in the United States without legal residency own businesses in the country by some estimates, and many are selling their enterprises, transferring them to relatives or closing altogether to avoid a total loss if they are abruptly deported.

They include people like Mauro Hernandez, a native of Mexico who operates a small chicken takeout and delivery restaurant along immigrant-heavy Roosevelt Avenue in the borough of Queens in New York City. He is now trying to sell.

There is Carmen and Jorge Tume, a couple from Peru, who have scaled back their mobile car wash business in Miami because they are so afraid of getting stopped by police and turned over to immigration.

“We don’t have any hope left,” said Carmen Tume, 50. “Everything we built is coming down.”

Hernandez, whose business was registered in the name of a friend who is a legal resident, said he is selling because he doesn’t want his partner to get stuck with it if he is deported.

“Since Trump won I have been very nervous,” he said.

It’s impossible to say exactly how many are taking such measures, but Jorge Rivera, a lawyer who advises immigrant clients in California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and other states, sees a clear trend.

“Everyone is taking precautions,” Rivera said. “They don’t want their business to disappear overnight and be left with nothing.”

Several other business owners interviewed by The Associated Press shared similar stories on condition that their names and identifying details not be disclosed, not wanting to alert immigration authorities.

They included a 40-year-old from Mexico who runs a marketing firm in Los Angeles that he said employs 50 people and has annual revenues of about $5 million. He’s making plans to transfer it to relatives who are citizens and move with his family to Spain.

Those selling often see no choice but to take a loss. Under Trump, detentions of immigrants in the country illegally rose 37 percent over the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2016. The administration says it is focused on those with criminal records, but the number of detainees who do not have a criminal history has more than doubled.

The businesses in question range widely from one-person cleaning services to restaurants and other operations that employ dozens of people. While hard figures on this hidden part of the economy don’t exist, the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates immigrants in the country without permission contribute $11.7 billion annually in state, local and federal taxes.

People without legal residency can obtain an individual taxpayer identification number and an employer identification number, enabling them to open bank accounts and operate businesses among other things.

Despite the boon for government coffers, advocates for controlling illegal immigration argue that the costs outweigh any benefits and that U.S. law should be enforced.

“They are trying to keep their ill-gotten gains, and the U.S. government should not allow illegal immigrants to own properties or businesses nor transfer them,” said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, said it’s incumbent on business owners without legal residency to prepare for the worst: “If they want their business to survive, they are going to have to put a plan in place.”

For Resendiz that meant handing over legal and financial control of the juice store in Florida City, which lies at the southernmost edge of Miami sprawl where strip malls fade into farms and nearby Everglades National Park produces a clientele of thirsty tourists. It has been thanks to that business the family gets by without government assistance, she said.

“I don’t receive food stamps or Medicaid. … I pay my taxes,” Resendiz said. “I don’t live off the government and don’t ask them for anything.”

She said she and her husband never tried to become citizens because they didn’t feel it was necessary — until Trump was elected president. She has since applied and is awaiting a response, nervous over the possibility of having to return to a homeland she left 25 years ago and now barely knows.

“My dreams became my reality because I had my own business,” she said. “Now, I have nothing in my name.”

Tense days for undocumented business owners fearing deportation

Maribel Resendiz and her husband came to the U.S. from Mexico, sold cool drinks to workers in the tomato fields of South Florida and eventually opened a bustling shop in a strip mall offering fruit smoothies and tacos. Now she is preparing for the possibility she’ll have to leave it all behind.

Resendiz, who is not a legal U.S. resident, recently turned over control of the business in Florida City to her daughter, a citizen. The once-proud shop owner is so afraid of deportation these days that on a recent morning she was keeping out of sight of customers while her husband was not there at all.

“I am afraid the police will stop me, call immigration, and they will take me away to Mexico,” Resendiz said while cutting fruit for smoothies.

The couple, who came to the United States in 1992 and have not become legal residents, are among a growing number of business owners with the same status who are scrambling to get their affairs in order amid a crackdown on illegal immigration under President Donald Trump.

As many as 10 percent of the 11 million or so immigrants in the United States without legal residency own businesses in the country by some estimates, and many are selling their enterprises, transferring them to relatives or closing altogether to avoid a total loss if they are abruptly deported.

They include people like Mauro Hernandez, a native of Mexico who operates a small chicken takeout and delivery restaurant along immigrant-heavy Roosevelt Avenue in the borough of Queens in New York City. He is now trying to sell.

There is Carmen and Jorge Tume, a couple from Peru, who have scaled back their mobile car wash business in Miami because they are so afraid of getting stopped by police and turned over to immigration.

“We don’t have any hope left,” said Carmen Tume, 50. “Everything we built is coming down.”

Hernandez, whose business was registered in the name of a friend who is a legal resident, said he is selling because he doesn’t want his partner to get stuck with it if he is deported.

“Since Trump won I have been very nervous,” he said.

It’s impossible to say exactly how many are taking such measures, but Jorge Rivera, a lawyer who advises immigrant clients in California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, Texas and other states, sees a clear trend.

“Everyone is taking precautions,” Rivera said. “They don’t want their business to disappear overnight and be left with nothing.”

Several other business owners interviewed by The Associated Press shared similar stories on condition that their names and identifying details not be disclosed, not wanting to alert immigration authorities.

They included a 40-year-old from Mexico who runs a marketing firm in Los Angeles that he said employs 50 people and has annual revenues of about $5 million. He’s making plans to transfer it to relatives who are citizens and move with his family to Spain.

Those selling often see no choice but to take a loss. Under Trump, detentions of immigrants in the country illegally rose 37 percent over the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2016. The administration says it is focused on those with criminal records, but the number of detainees who do not have a criminal history has more than doubled.

The businesses in question range widely from one-person cleaning services to restaurants and other operations that employ dozens of people. While hard figures on this hidden part of the economy don’t exist, the Washington-based Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates immigrants in the country without permission contribute $11.7 billion annually in state, local and federal taxes.

People without legal residency can obtain an individual taxpayer identification number and an employer identification number, enabling them to open bank accounts and operate businesses among other things.

Despite the boon for government coffers, advocates for controlling illegal immigration argue that the costs outweigh any benefits and that U.S. law should be enforced.

“They are trying to keep their ill-gotten gains, and the U.S. government should not allow illegal immigrants to own properties or businesses nor transfer them,” said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, said it’s incumbent on business owners without legal residency to prepare for the worst: “If they want their business to survive, they are going to have to put a plan in place.”

For Resendiz that meant handing over legal and financial control of the juice store in Florida City, which lies at the southernmost edge of Miami sprawl where strip malls fade into farms and nearby Everglades National Park produces a clientele of thirsty tourists. It has been thanks to that business the family gets by without government assistance, she said.

“I don’t receive food stamps or Medicaid. … I pay my taxes,” Resendiz said. “I don’t live off the government and don’t ask them for anything.”

She said she and her husband never tried to become citizens because they didn’t feel it was necessary — until Trump was elected president. She has since applied and is awaiting a response, nervous over the possibility of having to return to a homeland she left 25 years ago and now barely knows.

“My dreams became my reality because I had my own business,” she said. “Now, I have nothing in my name.”

1.8 million Chicago voter records exposed online

A voting machine company exposed 1.8 million Chicago voter records after misconfiguring a security setting on the server that stored them.

Election Systems & Software (ES&S), the Nebraska-based voting software and election management company, confirmed the leak on Thursday.

In a blog post, the company said the voter data leak contained names, addresses, birthdates, partial social security numbers and some driver’s license and state ID numbers stored in backup files on a server. Authorities alerted ES&S to the leak on Aug. 12, and the data was secured.

A security researcher from UpGuard discovered the breach.

The data did not contain any voting information, like the results of how someone voted.

Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, said the leak did not contain or affect anyone’s voting ballots, which are handled by a different vendor.

“We deeply regret this,” Allen said. “It was a violation of our information security protocol by the vendor.”

Forensic experts are investigating the ES&S leak. A spokesperson for ES&S said in a statement the firm has no indication that the information had been previously accessed by people other than the researchers who discovered it.

UpGuard security researcher Jon Hendren found the cache of data exposed on an Amazon Web Services server Friday night. He handed it off to analyst Chris Vickery who downloaded the information to examine the content. Vickery shared his findings with local and Illinois state authorities Saturday morning.

Amazon buckets — where data is stored — are private by default. This means someone at ES&S misconfigured a security setting and exposed the data online.

“This data would be an identity thief’s dream to find,” Vickery told CNN Tech. He also said the leaked files contained some voting system administration credentials.

Researchers at UpGuard are responsible for discovering a number of major data leaks from publicly available databases online, including millions of people’s information from a GOP analytics company and Verizon. It also recently discovered critical infrastructure data exposed by a Texas energy firm.

Data breaches like this happen far more frequently than the public might realize.

Vickery said when he devotes one day to looking for exposed servers, he finds dozens of data breaches. Some are not as big as schematics on energy companies or millions of partial social security numbers, but he said it’s something companies need to be much more aware of.

“It’s really kind of an epidemic that people don’t have any idea about,” Vickery said. “System administrators leaving things open and exposed to the public internet is like a cancer on security.”