Vehicles increasingly used as weapons by terrorists

A van ploughing into pedestrians in a busy area of Barcelona echoes the circumstances of terror atrocities that have hit several countries - including Germany, France and the UK.

The potential for large vehicles to inflict mass casualties was laid bare in horrifying fashion in July last year when a lorry drove through crowds gathered to celebrate Bastille Day in Nice, killing 86 people and injuring scores more.

Nice lorry attack

In December 2016, an attacker drove a lorry into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others.

Berlin Christmas market attack

This year in the UK, vehicles have been used in attacks at Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.

In the wake of the flurry of incidents in Britain, there were suggestions that van rental could be subject to more stringent checks - while officers appealed for vehicle hire and haulage firms with suspicions about rental attempts to come forward.

Guidance for armed police has also been tweaked to take account of the trend for using vehicles as weapons in terrorist attacks.

London bridge attackers

Previously, firearms officers had the option of shooting at a moving vehicle, but this was discouraged as it was felt it could increase the risk to the public.

But the guidance has been revised so that firing at a car, van or lorry when it is on the move is an accepted tactic for incidents such as those seen at Nice and Westminster.


 

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