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World leaders express solidarity in wake of Barcelona attack

France 24 image

World leaders sent messages of support and condolences to Spain on Thursday after a van struck a crowd in the busy Las Ramblas district of Barcelona, killing at least 13 people and wounding scores more in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

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French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to voice solidarity, describing the incident as a "tragic attack".

“All my thoughts and the solidarity of France are with the victims of this tragic attack in #Barcelona,” Macron tweeted. "We remain united and determined."

"Parisians are at your side,” said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo in a tweet. “Barcelona and Paris are cities that share love and tolerance. Our values are much stronger than this heinous and cowardly act of terrorism."

She added that the Eiffel Tower would go dark at 00:45 Paris time in solidarity with the Barcelona victims.

The office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel also condemned the "revolting attack" and sent condolences to the victims.

"We are thinking with profound sadness of the victims of the revolting attack in Barcelona – with solidarity and friendship alongside the Spanish people," Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain "stands with Spain". "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," she said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, whose city has suffered a spate of attacks using vehicles, called the attack "barbaric", adding: "London stands with Barcelona against the evil of terrorism."

US President Donald Trump also took to Twitter to say: "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!"

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offered assistance to the Spanish authorities and said US diplomats were helping the US nationals currently in the country. In remarks to reporters on Thursday, he vowed that the United States would never relent in tracking down terror suspects and holding them to account.

Former US president Barack Obama also tweeted his condolences to those affected by the tragedy. “Michelle and I are thinking of the victims and their families in Barcelona. Americans will always stand with our Spanish friends. Un abrazo.”

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was coordinating efforts to reinforce security and was en route to Barcelona.

"Maximum coordination to arrest the attackers, reinforce security and attend to all those affected," he said.

Spain’s royals also weighed in, vowing to remain strong in the face of danger.

"They are murderers, mere criminals who will not terrorise us. All Spain is Barcelona," the family tweeted from its official account.

In a telegram expressing his condolences to Spanish King Felipe VI, Russian 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," he wrote.

A statement from the Vatican expressed Pope Francis's prayers for those affected by the tragedy.

"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."

Home football team FC Barcelona said it was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy. Star player Lionel Messi said separately on social media 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 said.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AP and AFP)

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