Lurgan man living in Barcelona feared city would be targeted by ISIS

Las Ramblas in Barcelona. (Photo: Google Maps)
Las Ramblas in Barcelona. (Photo: Google Maps)

A Lurgan man living in Barcelona has described the scene in the city as armed police tracked terror suspects through crowded streets.

A short time after a van mowed down people at the popular tourist location Las Ramblas yesterday, leaving at least 13 dead and over 100 injured, we spoke to Peter Nesbitt who has been living in Barcelona for the past two and a half years.

Lurgan man Peter Nesbitt who has been living in Barcelona for the past two and half years

Lurgan man Peter Nesbitt who has been living in Barcelona for the past two and half years

Mr Nesbitt, who works for a company that provides English teaching courses, was thankful to have avoided the latest terrorist strike on western Europe, an attack which he said was something he had imagined happening.

The 33-year-old said: “I was working at home so I’m fortunate.

“I’m about 20 minutes walk from Las Ramblas, all I’m hearing right now is sirens.

“I am hearing from friends at the moment that the police are stalking the streets armed with guns.

“My ex was on lock-down in a pharmacy and then moved to a random bookshop.”

He added: “The attacker is apparently still on the loose in a built-up area.

“Barcelona has a lot of people living in the centre. Gotico is full of tourists but also lots of residents.

“There will be lots of people on the streets right now.”

Mr Nesbitt added: “This attack on Barcelona is something I did imagine happening.

“I can understand why ISIS would target Barcelona because of the number of western tourists who come here.”

Meanwhile, witnesses to the attack described how a white van hurtled through crowds without slowing down.

Scores were sent scattering in panic as carnage unfolded on Las Ramblas, a bustling high street often thronged with tourists.

Many were forced to take shelter in nearby shops, while others reported hearing gunshots.

Tom Gueller, who lives on a road adjoining the site of the attack, was forced to flee when the vehicle began hitting pedestrians.

He told BBC Radio Four’s PM programme: “I heard screams and a bit of a crash and then I just saw the crowd parting and this van going full pelt down the middle of the Ramblas, and I immediately knew that it was a terrorist attack or something like that.

“I ran away, I mean I live near, I had to run back about 50 metres or so and go up to my flat and obviously see what’s happening on the road from my balcony.”

Asked about the van, he said: “It wasn’t slowing down at all. It was just going straight through the middle of the crowds in the middle of the Ramblas.”

Video captured by eyewitnesses and circulating on social media showed the bloody aftermath of the incident.