A still image from video shows a police cordon on a street in Barcelona, Spain following a van crash August 17, 2017. REUTERS TV via REUTERS

(London) – The attack in Barcelona on the afternoon of August 17, 2017 was a despicable act of violence, Human Rights Watch said today.

According to Catalonia's Interior Minister, 13 people were killed and more than 50 others injured, some critically, when a van was driven into pedestrians in the tourist area of La Rambla.

Human Rights Watch expresses its deepest sympathies to all those affected by the attack, and solidarity with the people of Barcelona.

The attack is the deadliest of its kind in Spain since the 2004 bombing of Madrid's Atocha station. It occurred when the area, popular with tourists and the city’s residents alike, was crowded at the peak of the holiday season.

Catalonia's regional police force confirmed it has two suspects in custody, and is investigating their background and motive.

Following mass-casualty attacks during 2017 in multiple countries worldwide, the attack on August 17 is a stark reminder of the threat posed by people driven by hate or by violent or extremist views.

In the face of these threats, the best response is to defend robustly the principles of a democratic society, human rights, the rule of law and tolerance.