US warns of risk of terrorist attacks in Barcelona over Christmas season
The State Department on Sunday asked US citizens to exercise caution on Las Ramblas avenue in Barcelona due to the presumed risk of a terrorist attack “with little or no warning” during the Christmas season.
The US issued the warning on its Travel Twitter account.
"#Spain: Exercise heightened caution around areas of vehicle movement, including buses, in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona during Christmas and New Year’s. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, and other public areas,” tweeted the State Department.
In addition, the US Consulate in Barcelona repeated that message on its Web page and asked Americans to avoid Las Ramblas, which runs from the Cataluña Square to Portal de la Pau Square, as well as to exercise additional vigilance regarding their own safety during the Christmas holidays.
The consulate also reminded Americans that the emergency telephone number in Spain is 112 and asked them to pay attention to advisories and warnings that might be issued by Spain’s Civil Guard, the National Police and the Mossos d’Esquadra, Catalonia’s autonomous police force.
On Aug. 17, 2017, members of a jihadist cell ran over pedestrians along Las Ramblas and a few house later did the same to several people in the coastal town of Cambrils, acts that resulted in a total of 16 deaths and injured more than 100 people.
Just a day after the attacks, US President Donald Trump spoke with then-Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to offer him any assistance he deemed necessary under the circumstances.
The State Department regularly issues travel warnings and advisories to inform Americans about security in countries they may be intending to visit.
Currently, Spain is designated a Level 2 nation by the US, meaning that Washington is advising its citizens to look out for possible risks to their safety.
The alert system has four levels with 1 being the lowest (“normal precautions”) and 4 being the highest, where consular services advise Americans not to travel to those areas because of the “high probability” of risks to life and well-being.
Las Ramblas is a series of connected tree-lined pedestrian streets in central Barcelona stretching for 1.2 kilometers (0.75 mi.) that can be crowded, especially during the height of the tourist season. It is extremely popular with tourists, who flock to it to stroll, windowshop, frequent its souvenir kiosks and enjoy food and drink in its streetside cafes.