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Canadian impacted in Barcelona terror attack, Spanish civil guard says

NEWS STAFF, THE CANADIAN PRESS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 18th, 2017

Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, on Aug. 17, 2017, after a van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists, killing 13 people and injuring 100 others. (AP Photo/Oriol Duran)

One Canadian has been impacted by the terror attack in Barcelona, the Spanish civil guard said on Friday.

According to the agency, the dead and injured in the Las Ramblas attack include people from 33 countries. It is not yet known if the Canadian is among the dead or injured.

“I am not afraid! I am not afraid!” the crowd chanted in Catalan amid applause.

The dual attacks unnerved a country that hasn’t seen an Islamic extremist attack since 2004, when al-Qaeda-inspired bombers killed 192 people in co-ordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. Unlike France, Britain, Sweden and Germany, Spain has largely been spared, thanks in part to a crackdown that has netted some 200 suspected jihadis in recent years.

CNE takes top billing this weekend, but other fun events on tap

PATRICIA D'CUNHA AND SAMANTHA KNIGHT | posted Friday, Aug 18th, 2017

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File photo of the CNE Midway. Photo credit: TheEx.com
Let’s go to The Ex! This mantra will once again be recited as the CNE opens its gates on Friday. The fair is a staple in Toronto, a tradition that started in 1879. Click here for some facts about the CNE.

That’s not the only fun thing happening in the city this weekend. Below are some suggestions to help you plan your event to-do list.

This time, there is a two-stop subway closure to contend with on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) for TTC work. Several roads will also be closed due to various events, click here to see the list.

And just a reminder, the solar eclipse is on Monday, but don’t stare directly at it. Click here for a roundup of where and how to watch it.


What’s on

CNE time comes around
With the arrival of The Ex on Friday, it is a sign that the end of summer is around the corner. But the CNE hopes to buoy your spirits with the event, which seems to get larger with each passing year. This year’s theme is ‘True North,’ which celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday. To mark the occasion, an eight-foot CNE sign decorated with a maple leaf will be illuminated on the west end of the Exhibition grounds, near the Princess Margaret Fountain. Also, Ojibway artist Kris Nahrgang designed a Unity Pole – Indigenous symbols carved into a 25-foot cedar tree – to pay tribute to Canada’s Indigenous heritage.

Aside from the midway, casino, music at the CNE Bandshell and international pavillion, food is one the top highlights. For the brave ones, there’s deep-fried cod tongue and deep-fried chicken feet. Another highlight is the thrilling air show, which takes to the skies during Labour Day weekend. There will also be plenty of live entertainment, including an ice skating show starring Elvis Stojko, and an East Coast Kitchen Party filled with fiddlers and the Newfoundland tradition of kissing the cod.

Movies at the beach

If you love the beach and movies, then you can get the best of both worlds this weekend with the Sail-In Cinema at Sugar Beach. Starting on Friday night and until Sunday, a different film will be screened each night on a two-sided screen atop a barge in the harbour. You can watch the movie on the beach or on your boat (if you have one). The movie starts at 8 p.m. with pre-show entertainment at 6 p.m. The movies show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday are Edward Scissorhands, Indiana Jones-Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Beauty and the Beast, respectively. Last year, more than 11,000 people attended the screenings on the beach and 100 boats dropped anchor over the three-day event. Admission to the outdoor cinema is free.

People gather at Sugar Beach to watch movies at the Sail-in Cinema in 2015. Photo credit: Ports Toronto

 

Vegan-licious
If you are a vegan or want to try vegan treats, head down to the Toronto Vegan Food and Drink Festival on Saturday. Tempt your taste buds with vegan cheese and baked goods, yam chops, bareburgers, superfunghi pizzas, and ice cream made entirely from oatmeal – that sounds very innovative. It takes place from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fort York and Garrison Common. Click herefor a list of vendors.

Canadian Oat Planet from Oat & Mill on Vimeo.

Festival takes over Chinatown
Dancing, martial arts and delicious food from around Asia welcomes you at the Chinatown Festival this weekend. The festival features dragon and lion dances, Kung Fu performances and a walking tour of Chinatown, among other things.

Chinatown in Toronto at dusk. Photo credit: Instagram/torontochinatown

 

Blueberries galore
If you’re wild about blueberries, Evergreen Brickworks is the place to be this weekend. The site is hosting a Wild Blueberry Weekend to celebrate the delicious super berry native to North America. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn, taste, eat and shop from food producers, preservers, bakers and chefs who will feature wild blueberry products and dishes as part of their booths. There will also be a chef’s demo and children’s activities throughout the weekend. The event runs within the Saturday Farmers Market and Sunday Market.

Cartons of wild blueberries are for sale at a roadside stand in Woolwich, Maine, on July 27, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/ Robert F. Bukaty

 

Yonge and Bloor pedestrian takeover
Pedestrians will replace vehicles on parts of Bloor and Yonge streets this Sunday for Open Streets TO. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and features 10 activity hubs along the route. The hubs act as outdoor community centres where local residents, businesses and organizations can lead fun and interactive activities. They are stationed along Bloor between Christie and Sherbourne streets, and on Yonge between Bloor and Shuter streets. Activities include an adventure playground for kids, a bike obstacle course, square dancing and jump rope.

A young girl takes part in Open Streets TO. File photo.

 

Celebrate India’s independence day
India marked its 70th independence on Tuesday, and you can celebrate it at Nathan Phillips Square on Sunday. The India Day festival and grand parade runs from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and features Bollywood celebrities, international music stars, India Punjabi Film Industry actresses and more. There will also be activities including cricket pitch, a kids’ zone, food stalls and India Day sales of clothing and fashion accessories. The event is free to attend.

TTC and road closures

Partial Line 2 shutdown
TTC track work means there will be a subway disruption on Line 2 this weekend. Shuttle buses will replace trains between Kipling and Islington stations. Wheel-Trans buses will operate upon request. Customers travelling westbound on Line 2 who need an elevator are asked to exit the train at Jane station and request a Wheel-Trans bus. Regular service is scheduled to resume at 6 a.m. on Monday.

Road closures
Chinatown Festival: Southbound Spadina Avenue from St. Andrew to Dundas streets, and southbound Spadina from Dundas to Sullivan streets, will be closed from noon on Saturday to 11 p.m. on Sunday. TTC service will not be impacted.

Wheels on the Danforth: Danforth Avenue from Byng to Warden avenues, and Danforth Road from Landry to Danforth avenues, will be closed from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday. The 113 Danforth and 20 Cliffside buses will be diverting.

Taste of Manila: Bathurst Street from Wilson to Laurelcrest avenues will be closed in from 12:01 a.m. to midnight on Sunday.

Open Streets TO: Bloor Street from Montrose Avenue to Yonge Street, and Yonge between Bloor and Queen streets, will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The 161 Rogers Road bus will be diverting.

India Day Festival and Grand Parade: Two northbound lanes of University Avenue between Queen Street West and Dundas Street, and Armoury Street between University Avenue and Chestnut Street, will be closed 12:01 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Death toll in Spain attacks rises to 14, driver in Barcelona attack at large

JOSEPH WILSON AND ALEX OLLER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 18th, 2017

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Police on Friday shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region hours after a van plowed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade, killing at least 13 people and injuring over 100 others.

Authorities were still reeling from Thursday’s Barcelona attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometres to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into a group of tourists and locals with their blue Audi 3. A woman was who injured in the attack has since died. Five other people, including a police officer, were also injured.

Authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks – as well as an explosion earlier this week elsewhere in Catalonia – were connected and the work of a large terrorist group. Three people were arrested, but the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack remained at large and the manhunt intensified for the perpetrators of the latest European rampage claimed by the Islamic State group.


Related stories:

No Canadians reported among dead or injured in Spain terror attack: Global Affairs

13 killed in Barcelona attack, Spanish police kill four suspects in separate alleged plot


Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, told Onda Cero radio that the five suspects killed in a subsequent shootout with police were wearing fake bomb belts.

“They were fakes, but very well made, and it wasn’t until the bomb squad carried out the controlled explosion of one that they could determine they were fakes,” he said.

The Audi and a damaged police car were towed from the scene Friday.

The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians, zig-zagging down the strip packed with locals and tourists from around the world.

Forn, told local radio RAC1 the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”

He told Onda Cero that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks were being investigated together, as well as a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” he said. He added that the Alcanar explosion had been caused by butane tanks stored in a house, and that firefighters and police responding to the blast had been injured.

The Barcelona attack at the peak of Spain’s tourist season left victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Cambrils Mayor Cami Mendoza said the town had taken precautions after the Barcelona attack, but that the suspects had centred their assault early Friday on the narrow path to Cambrils’s boardwalk, which is usually packed with locals and tourists late into the evening.

“We were on a terrace, like many others,” said bystander Jose Antonio Saez. “We heard the crash and intense gun shots, then the dead bodies on the floor, shot by the police. They had what looked like explosive belts on.”

Others described scenes of panic, and found safety inside bars and restaurants until police had secured the area.

Local resident Markel Artabe said he was heading to the seafront to get an ice cream when he heard the shots.

“We began to run. We saw one person lying on the pavement with a shot in his head then 20-30 metres further on we saw two more people, who must have been terrorists as they had explosive belts around them. We were worried so we hid.”

A third Barcelona suspect was arrested Friday in the northern town of Ripoll, where one of the two detained on Thursday had also been nabbed. The third arrest was made in Alcanar, where the gas explosion in a house was being investigated.

“There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,” Forn told TV3 television, adding that police were focusing their investigation on identifying the five dead in Cambrils as well as the driver of the Barcelona van.

Police said the two suspects arrested Thursday were a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported said Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Media outlets ran photographs of Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told The Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

The driver, however, remained at large.

“We don’t know if the driver is still in Barcelona or not, or what direction he fled in,” Forn, the Catalan interior minister, told SER Radio. “We had local police on the scene, but we were unable to shoot him, as the Ramblas were packed with people.”

The Catalan regional government said people from 24 countries were among those killed and injured in Barcelona.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

By Friday morning, the promenade had reopened to the public, and neighbours and tourist were allowed past police lines to go back to their homes and hotels. The city centre remained under heavy surveillance.

At noon Friday, a minute of silence honouring the victims was to be observed at the Plaza Catalunya, near the top of the Ramblas where the van attack started. Rajoy declared three days of national mourning.

Similar vehicle attacks have been carried out at tourist sites in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

“London, Brussels, Paris and some other European cities have had the same experience. It’s been Barcelona’s turn today,” said Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia’s government.

The bloodshed was Spain’s deadliest attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in co-ordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. In the years since, Spanish authorities have arrested nearly 200 jihadists. The only deadly attacks were bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade but it declared a cease-fire in 2011.

“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.

Associated Press writers Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Albert Stumm in Barcelona, Barry Hatton in Lisbon and Alan Clendenning in Phoenix also contributed to this report.

Spanish police kill 5 in resort hours after Barcelona attack, driver in Barcelona attack at large

JOSEPH WILSON AND ALEX OLLER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 18th, 2017

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Police on Friday shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region hours after a van plowed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade, killing at least 13 people and injuring over 100 others.

Authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks – as well as an explosion earlier this week elsewhere in Catalonia – were connected and the work of a large terrorist group. Three people were arrested, but the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack remained at large and the manhunt intensified for the perpetrators of the latest European rampage claimed by the Islamic State group.

Authorities were still reeling from Thursday’s Barcelona attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometres (80 miles) to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into a group of tourists and locals with their blue Audi 3. Six people, including a police officer, were injured, though it wasn’t clear how badly.


Related stories:

No Canadians reported among dead or injured in Spain terror attack: Global Affairs
13 killed in Barcelona attack, Spanish police kill four suspects in separate alleged plot


Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, told Onda Cero radio that the five suspects killed in a subsequent shootout with police were wearing fake bomb belts.

“They were fakes, but very well made, and it wasn’t until the bomb squad carried out the controlled explosion of one that they could determine they were fakes,” he said.

The Audi and a damaged police car were towed from the scene Friday.

The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians, zig-zagging down the strip packed with locals and tourists from around the world.

Forn, told local radio RAC1 the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”

He told Onda Cero that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks were being investigated together, as well as a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” he said. He added that the Alcanar explosion had been caused by butane tanks stored in a house, and that firefighters and police responding to the blast had been injured.

The Barcelona attack at the peak of Spain’s tourist season left victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Cambrils Mayor Cami Mendoza said the town had taken precautions after the Barcelona attack, but that the suspects had centred their assault early Friday on the narrow path to Cambrils’s boardwalk, which is usually packed with locals and tourists late into the evening.

“We were on a terrace, like many others,” said bystander Jose Antonio Saez. “We heard the crash and intense gun shots, then the dead bodies on the floor, shot by the police. They had what looked like explosive belts on.”

Others described scenes of panic, and found safety inside bars and restaurants until police had secured the area.

Local resident Markel Artabe said he was heading to the seafront to get an ice cream when he heard the shots.

“We began to run. We saw one person lying on the pavement with a shot in his head then 20-30 metres further on we saw two more people, who must have been terrorists as they had explosive belts around them. We were worried so we hid.”

A third Barcelona suspect was arrested Friday in the northern town of Ripoll, where one of the two detained on Thursday had also been nabbed. The third arrest was made in Alcanar, where the gas explosion in a house was being investigated.

“There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,” Forn told TV3 television, adding that police were focusing their investigation on identifying the five dead in Cambrils as well as the driver of the Barcelona van.

Police said the two suspects arrested Thursday were a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported said Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Media outlets ran photographs of Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told The Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

The driver, however, remained at large.

“We don’t know if the driver is still in Barcelona or not, or what direction he fled in,” Forn, the Catalan interior minister, told SER Radio. “We had local police on the scene, but we were unable to shoot him, as the Ramblas were packed with people.”

The Catalan regional government said people from 24 countries were among those killed and injured in Barcelona.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

By Friday morning, the promenade had reopened to the public, and neighbours and tourist were allowed past police lines to go back to their homes and hotels. The city centre remained under heavy surveillance.

At noon Friday, a minute of silence honouring the victims was to be observed at the Plaza Catalunya, near the top of the Ramblas where the van attack started. Rajoy declared three days of national mourning.

Similar vehicle attacks have been carried out at tourist sites in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

“London, Brussels, Paris and some other European cities have had the same experience. It’s been Barcelona’s turn today,” said Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia’s government.

The bloodshed was Spain’s deadliest attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in co-ordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. In the years since, Spanish authorities have arrested nearly 200 jihadists. The only deadly attacks were bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade but it declared a cease-fire in 2011.

“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.

Associated Press writers Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Albert Stumm in Barcelona, Barry Hatton in Lisbon and Alan Clendenning in Phoenix also contributed to this report.

At least two Quebecers attended white supremacist rally in Charlottesville

MELANIE MARQUIS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 18th, 2017

A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them.   /The Daily Progress via AP)
A vehicle drives into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. The nationalists were holding the rally to protest plans by the city of Charlottesville to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. There were several hundred protesters marching in a long line when the car drove into a group of them. /The Daily Progress via AP)
At least two Quebec men have been identified after they travelled south to participate in a white supremacist rally last week in Charlottesville, Va.

One of them took to Facebook to express his anger after an anti-fascist group posted a screen capture from the event that showed his face and that of four other men.

“These people are idiots who drive forward the globalist media narrative to silence anyone who is right of centre,” Shawn Beauvais-MacDonald wrote on his Facebook page.

A spokesman for right-wing group La Meute said Beauvais-MacDonald’s membership was suspended pending an investigation into the rally attendance.


Related stories:

Ex neo-Nazi urges parents to talk to kids about their take on Charlottesville
White nationalist group not welcome on campus: University of Toronto
Andrew Scheer’s free speech pledge wouldn’t apply in Toronto case: spokesman
Defiant Trump renews criticism of ‘both sides’ in Virginia violence


La Meute “formally dissociates itself from white supremacist groups, racist groups and violent groups of all political orientations,” Sylvain Brouillette told The Canadian Press in an email.

A second Quebec man, whose photo was also published on social media, said he travelled to Virginia partly for his own amusement.

“I did it mostly ‘For the lulz,’ meaning I expected to be entertained and it was indeed the case,” Vincent Belanger-Mercure told The Canadian Press in a Facebook message.

Belanger-Mercure said while he isn’t a white supremacist, “I’m not ashamed of being white either,” and added that attempts to make all cultures uniform “make the beauty of the world disappear.”

The photos of the men were pulled from a report on the Charlottesville event made by Vice with the collaboration of HBO.

The administrator of the anti-Pegida Quebec Facebook page republished screen grabs from the report and encouraged the public to identify the men.

The “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia resulted in violent clashes between white supremacist groups, including neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan (KKK), and the other camp, which was made up of activists opposed to the policies of the self-described “alt-right.”

One woman was killed and several people were injured after a vehicle plowed into a crowd of people.

The suspected driver, James Alex Fields, is facing several charges, including one of second-degree murder.

The event has prompted provincial and federal politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to speak out against racism and hate.

In Quebec, International Relations Minister Christine St-Pierre has warned that the province’s international reputation could take a hit due to the increased visibility of homegrown far-right groups.

These include La Meute, which is planning a demonstration in Quebec City on Sunday.

No Canadians reported among dead or injured in Spain terror attack: Global Affairs

MIA RABSON, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Aug 18th, 2017

AppleMark
Injured people are treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. (AP Photo/Oriol Duran)
Global Affairs Canada says there are no reports of Canadians among those killed and injured in a terror attack in Barcelona.

Someone drove a van into a crowd on the popular Las Ramblas tourist area near the centre of the city, killing at least 13 people and injuring many more.

Global Affairs says it is ready to assist Canadians in Barcelona as required.

It is also warning Canadians to avoid the Las Ramblas area and says anyone who is already there should stay indoors and follow the instructions of the authorities.

The department urged Canadians in Spain to let their “loved ones know you are safe.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“While we cannot ignore the outrage we feel, together we must renew our commitment to protect the freedom found in societies that promote unity, openness and inclusion,” wrote Trudeau, who has been out of the spotlight on a family vacation in British Columbia this week.

“Spain, we grieve with you and denounce hate and violence in all of its forms. Canada will continue working with the international community to fight terrorism and build a world where we can all feel safe and secure.”

The attack happened shortly before 5:30 p.m. local time.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, senior police official, told a news conference late Thursday.

Carles Puigdemont, president of Spain’s Catalonia region, told a news conference two suspects had been arrested, but officials have said neither of them was the van’s driver.

Spanish authorities say 13 people were confirmed dead and about 100 hurt, at least 15 of them seriously.

The attack occurred just over a kilometre from Canada’s consulate in Barcelona.

Global Affairs says Canadians in the Spanish city should monitor local media, including social media, for information and can contact the local consulate or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa for help.

Charles Mordret, a Quebecer who spends a lot of time in Barcelona, was not far from the area when he heard something had happened and started going towards it.

“People were coming in the opposite direction and I ended up going into a cafe,” Mordret told La Presse canadienne.

Initial reports suggested one of the suspects may have been hiding in a bar just off the popular tourist strip but police later dismissed those reports.

Mordret said there were a lot of people on the street when it happened, but they cleared away.

“There are a lot of police officers. Every street is blocked off and at each corner there’s a police cruiser. Helicopters are flying over the area. The streets are empty.”

Police cordoned off the area and metro stations in the neighbourhood have all been closed.

Las Ramblas is a tree-lined pedestrian mall lined with cafes and souvenir kiosks. There are two narrow service roads running along either side of the pedestrian mall.

“Las Ramblas is bit like Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal,” said Mordret. “It’s the main street, where the tourists are. Whoever did this wanted to cause a lot of damage.”

Politicians around the world, including U.S. President Donald Trump, expressed sadness.

Canadian Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims. We stand together condemning these horrific acts of terrorism.”

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair called it terrible news: “We stand with Spain and all those impacted by this terror attack.”

Student who drowned on school trip didn’t pass swim test: TDSB director

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 17th, 2017

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A 15-year-old student who drowned on a school-run camping trip this summer had not passed a required swim test, the Toronto District School Board said Wednesday, as it apologized to the teen’s family.

The board’s director of education, John Malloy, said that of the 32 students who went on the multi-day canoe trip to Algonquin Park in July, 15 had failed the swim test. There was no documentation for two of the students, he said.

Malloy said all students on the trip were required to pass a swim test set out by the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, which included a rolling entry into deep water, treading water for a minute and a 50-metre continuous swim.

Jeremiah Perry disappeared under the water after going for an evening swim with other students. His body was found a day later by search and rescue divers.

“I’m deeply troubled by these findings, that such a critical safety requirement in our procedures appears not to have been followed,” said Malloy.

“On behalf of the TDSB, I offer our most sincere apology and regret. I also want to apologize to the families of the other students who went on the trip, even though they did not pass the swim test.”

“The information that we have is the students did not pass the test and should not have been on the trip,” Malloy said.

Two teachers who were on the trip have been placed on home assignment as a result of the incident, he added.

New procedures have already been put in place, according to Malloy, who said that school principals will now have to see a list of students who passed or failed a required swim test before the trip takes place, and that parents will be notified if their child passed or failed the test.

“I know that Jeremiah’s family wants us to take steps to ensure that this will never happen again,” said Malloy.

He said that there will be a third-party review of all TDSB excursions that, like a canoe trip, are classified as ‘high care’ activities.

Perry’s parents could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, but at the time of the incident, his father, Joshua Anderson, said the he had expected the school would keep Jeremiah and his brother, who was also on the trip, safe.

“That was the least on our minds thinking about the safety because we know the school is supposed to have proper supervision, proper protocol, everything in place,” he told a Toronto TV station.

Malloy said that an internal investigation is currently taking place to better understand how this incident could have happened. He said that the investigation is still ongoing because some members involved, including the two teachers on the trip, have “exercised their legal right not to speak” at the advice of their legal council.

He added that the TDSB has scrutinized every trip scheduled to take place before Sept. 5, and confirmed that there are no similar issues with any of those trips.

2 suspects wanted in Sherway Gardens shooting

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Aug 17th, 2017

HAYLEY&STORM
One man was critically injured after a shooting in the parking lot of Sherway Gardens near a Starbucks on Aug. 16, 2017. CITYNEWS/David Misener
Toronto police are searching for two suspects after a shooting outside a coffee shop at Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke.

Police were called to the plaza around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday following reports of shots being fired.

A man had been shot in a parked car near the Starbucks. Paramedics say the victim was taken to a trauma centre with critical injuries.

A second man who was also in the car at the time of the shooting was hit by shattered glass. His injuries are not life-threatening.

Both victims are in their 50s.

Police say the suspects fled the scene in a black SUV, which they said they had recovered a short time later. The vehicle had been stolen and was burned.

Initially, police released a description of two suspects but later corrected that report, saying they are looking for two suspects who were dressed in black and had their faces concealed.

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