(CNSNews.com) – The United States and its allies will work together to “drive the evil of radical Islamic terror from the face of the Earth,” Vice-President Mike Pence pledged Thursday, responding to an ISIS-claimed terror attack in Barcelona.
“This is a tragic day,” he said during a visit to Panama. “And the latest scenes of carnage and mayhem sicken us all.”
Thirteen people were killed and scores more injured when a van was driven into a crowd of pedestrians in the Spanish city’s popular tourist district – the latest in a string of deadly vehicle-ramming attacks in European cities since last summer.
Police arrested two men, and hours later reported having shot dead four suspects in the nearby port town of Cambrils after another attempted attack. A fifth suspect shot in Cambrils died later.
Pence said that “the people of Barcelona should know, our prayers and the prayers of all the American people are with the victims, their families, and all the good people of Spain.”
He noted that the attack was the worst on Spanish soil since the March 2004 Madrid bombings (in which 191 people were killed in a series of rush-hour train bombings claimed by al-Qaeda.)
And he said that “it shows us again that radical Islamic terrorism is one of the greatest threats that we face today.”
“ISIS has taken credit for this barbaric act,” Pence continued, “but whoever is responsible should know, that the United States, together with our allies, will find and punish those responsible, and drive the evil of radical Islamic terror from the face of the Earth.”
Terrorist ideologues have used online propaganda outlets to encourage the use of vehicles in attacks, advising would-be attackers to choose crowded areas and to drive as fast as possible in order to cause maximum damage.
U.S. security agencies have long warned that the use of vehicles in attacks “offers terrorists with limited access to explosives or weapons an opportunity to conduct a Homeland attack with minimal prior training or experience.”
A Transportation Security Administration document last May listed 17 known vehicle-ramming attacks since May 2014, resulting in 173 fatalities and more than 650 injuries.
Most were in Europe and Israel, although the TSA report included one each in China, Canada and the United States. (Eleven people were injured in a car-ramming and knife attack at Ohio State University last November.)
The deadliest of those attacks occurred in Nice, France in July last year, when 86 people were killed when Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian man with residence in France, drove a 20-ton truck into hundreds of people enjoying Bastille Day fireworks.
Although the Nice attack wasn’t the first of its kind in Europe, it was followed by a series of similar incidents in Britain, Germany, Sweden, France and now, Spain.
Most were carried out by Muslim men and claimed by ISIS, although in one incident last June, a man drove into a crowd of Muslims outside a London mosque, killing one and injuring eight people. The 47-year-old suspect will go on trial next year on charges of “terrorism-related murder and attempted murder.”