Spotlight: Europe to stay vigilance in fight against terrorism

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-19 02:42:31|Editor: Liangyu
Video PlayerClose

Flowers and candles are laid to mourn the victims of the terror attack on Las Ramblas street, Barcelona, Spain, on Aug. 18, 2017. The number of people killed in Thursday's double terror attacks rose to 15 on Friday. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)

by Yin Xia, Zhou Jun, Gui Tao,

BRUSSELS, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- On Thursday afternoon, a van mowed down people at the famous street Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain.

Hours later, a vehicle ran over several people in the Catalan resort town of Cambrils, about 100 kilometers southwest of Barcelona. The five alleged terrorists were taken down by Catalan police in a shootout.

The number of people killed in Thursday's double terror attacks rose to 15, the Catalan emergency services confirmed.

The fact that terrorism is rampant in Europe is a result of a series of internal and external reasons. Experts believe that European countries must stay alert in the fight against terrorism.

Europe stays united

The Barcelona attacks were the latest major terrorist attacks happened in Europe this year following London, Paris, Copenhagen and Brussels ones. These deadly attacks made Europe suffer great pains.

Leaders from European Union (EU) institutions and member states condemned the attacks, expressed condolences, and stated that Europe would stay united to fight against terrorism.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker lambasted the "cowardly" attack in a statement, saying "I send my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims, as well as to (Spanish) Prime Minister Rajoy and the people of Spain. My thoughts are with the people of Barcelona."

He added the Commission is "at the full disposal of the authorities for any help or assistance".

Echoing Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: "All of Europe stands with Barcelona. Our thoughts are with the victims and all affected by this cowardly attack on innocents."

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said: "My heart goes out to the victims of the attack in Barcelona and their families. Full support to authorities. EU united in defence of peace."

Apart from this, leaders of European countries, such as Britain, France and Denmark, also expressed their support to Spain and the resolution to fight against terrorism together.

Threat high in continent

The Thursday's attacks were the most serious terrorist attacks in Spain since the Madrid train bomb attacks in 2004.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the attack in Barcelona was "jihadist terrorism", calling for a global response.

"Today the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global," Rajoy said at a press conference in Barcelona.

European anti-terrorism experts believed that terrorists from the Middle East, combined with the European extremists, pose increasing threat to Europe.

According to Europol's Terrorism Situation and Trend Report published in June this year, the EU is facing a range of terrorist threats and attacks of a violent jihadist nature, from both networked groups and lone actors.

The attacks in Brussels, Nice and Berlin in particular, with explosives (Brussels) and vehicles (Nice and Berlin) used to randomly kill and wound as many people as possible, again demonstrated the harm jihadist militants are able and willing to inflict upon EU citizens, legitimised by the interpretation they adopted of selectively sampled religious texts, said the report.

The report pointed out that jihadist actors can be both directed by Islamic State (IS) or merely inspired by IS ideology and rhetoric. Jihadist terrorists have been found to use a range of weapons to include bladed weapons, automatic rifles, explosives and vehicles, and are expected to continue to do so.

Perpetrators of terrorist attacks in the EU include both foreigners, of whom a number may have resided in the EU for a long time, and nationals who have grown up in the countries they attacked, it further stated.

Vigilance vital in fight against terror

Peter Neumann, German anti-terrorism expert, said that Europe countries still have deficiencies in counterterrorism cooperation. So far, the security departments of European countries have not established a database containing all terrorists across Europe available for all European countries to refer to at any time yet.

Glees, Director of the Center for Security and Intelligence Studies (BUCSIS) at Britain's University of Buckingham, told Xinhua one of the big questions that needed to be answered was whether security in the tourist hot spot in Spain had been too relaxed.

"Las Ramblas is the place everyone goes to, so everything has to be set in context. We have seen two attacks in London where vehicles have been used as weapons, and similar attacks in Berlin, Nice and Stockholm. This has become an established terror tactic," he said.

"Whether this latest attack was carried out by home grown Islam idealists, or whether they came from Arab countries or Northern Africa remains to be seen," he added.

The attacks in Spain were made possible because European countries were slow to make public space safe, French specialist on terrorism Mathieu Guidere said on Friday in an interview with Xinhua.

For the French specialist, the solution lies essentially in improving the "passive defense" of Europe's urban areas where pedestrians and vehicles congregate.

"The mayors of large European cities must rethink public spaces: every time there is a sidewalk on which a car can be mounted, a pedestrian square around which vehicles circulate, concrete blocks must be placed," Guidere said.

Francesco Sisci, veteran Italian journalist, said in an interview with Xinhua that social contradictions and religious conflicts will still exist in European countries for a long time.

According to him, the European countries should take out long-term strategies to deal with terrorist attacks; first of all is to stay calm, and not to carry out high-pressure policies.

To prevent terrorist attacks effectively, European countries need to increase police and its technical means, he said, and at the same time, it is important to have the support and trust of the people.

(The story was also contributed by Larry Neild, Ying Qiang, Han Bing, Wang Qing, Li Jie)


14 killed, over 130 injured in Spain's double terror attacks