Terror in Barcelona

Terror in Barcelona
21 Feb

Armed Spanish police have arrested a Swedish driver after he was seen speeding the wrong way down a motorway towards Barcelona in a stolen truck carrying gas cylinders.

Officers are said to have opened fire as the man was driving the lorry against the flow of traffic along the Roda del Litoral towards the heart of the city.

The vehicle, carrying dozens of butane canisters, rammed several cars before it was finally stopped on one of the road's exits.

A Swedish man identified as 33-year-old Joakim Robin Berggren was reportedly arrested at gunpoint.

Spain's Interior Minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido said this morning that it was 'not a terrorist act' adding that the arrested man has 'a psychiatric history'. He was not carrying any form of weapon, the police said.

Officers started chasing the truck after the driver failed to obey orders to stop from police who had seen it driving at high speeds and dropping part of its load.

A regional police spokeswoman said the truck was travelling in the wrong direction along a highway near the north eastern Spanish city's famed harbour around 11am.

Spanish national television TVE reported that the truck had rammed several cars before local police fired several gunshots to stop it.

The trace of at least one gunshot was visible on the windscreen of the truck, which was small.

Lavanguardia reported that a passer-by was injured by a butane bottle falling from the truck as it sped along.

Barcelona's city hall said the small white truck - which had dozens of orange gas bottles stacked on the back in plain view - had been stolen.

There was no indication as yet whether this was an attempted attack or just a plain robbery.

Mireia Ruiz, a woman who saw the truck from her home nearby, said the driver ignored people screaming at him to stop as he sped down the wrong side of a ring road.

'When people shouted at him, he would laugh and make offensive gestures with his hand,' she told AFP.

Police did not say whether there were any injuries.

Around 20 police officers and at least six police cars were on site, and several gas bottles were lying on the ground, an AFP correspondent reported.

The police spokeswoman wouldn't confirm the gunshots but said the driver was being interrogated.

'We detained a person who was of Swedish nationality,' a spokesman for the regional police told AFP.

Spain has kept its national security alert to one step below maximum since July 2015, following violent attacks in France and elsewhere.

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