Hundreds of thousands march in Barcelona to show unity after Islamist attacks

Hundreds of thousands marched in Barcelona in a show of unity on Saturday evening amid chants of 'I am not afraid' after two Islamist militant attacks in the Spanish region of Catalonia last week left 15 dead.

The march was led by shopkeepers and residents of the city's well-known Las Ramblas boulevard, where a van plowed into pedestrians on Aug. 17, killing 13 and injuring over a hundred. The crowd applauded representatives of the police, fire services and medical professions who also led the march.

Spain's King Felipe, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the head of Catalonia's regional government Carles Puigdemont, dressed in dark suits, walked in the throng as people cheered and bore red, yellow and white roses - the colors of Spain's second-biggest city.

"We are here to say we're not afraid, we are united and we want peace," said 59-year-old pensioner Victoria Padilla as she marched. Slogans carried by marchers read "The best answer: peace" and "No to Islamophobia."

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Police estimated the march at half a million people.

Members of Spain's Islamic community marched alongside the King and Prime Minister Rajoy, including women wearing hijabs. Speakers gave readings next to a floral display with the words 'Barcelona' and 'I am not afraid' in different languages including Arabic.

"We have to know how to speak to each other and understand others. Everyone has to learn how to be more human," said demonstrator Juan Ripoll, 63.

In the run up to the protest, Barcelona mayor Ada Colau called for a massive turnout after what she called a "tough, painful week" which saw two deadly Islamist militant attacks in as many days and an extensive manhunt for those responsible.

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People hold signs and flags as they take part in a march of unity after the attacks last week, in Barcelona, Spain, August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea
Spain's King Felipe (C), Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (L) and Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont (R) take part in a march of unity after the attacks last week, in Barcelona, Spain, August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Police officers hold roses given to them by people after a march of unity after the attacks last week, in Barcelona, Spain, August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Juan Medina
BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 26: Demonstrators place flowers to police vehicle during a demonstration against terror attacks and solidarity with the victims of the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain on August 26, 2017. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
MADRID, SPAIN - 2017/08/26: A woman poses with a placard during a protest showing solidarity with Barcelona and against terrorist attacks. (Photo by Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 26: Citizens summoned by Barcelona's government take part in a demonstration against terror attacks and solidarity with the victims of the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain on August 26, 2017. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 26: Citizens summoned by Barcelona's government take part in a demonstration against terror attacks and solidarity with the victims of the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain on August 26, 2017. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BARCELONA, SPAIN - AUGUST 26: Citizens summoned by Barcelona's government take part in a demonstration against terror attacks and solidarity with the victims of the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain on August 26, 2017. (Photo by Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Thousands of people march during a march against terrorism which slogan will be #NoTincPor (I'm Not Afraid) in Barcelona on August 26, 2017, following the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks killing 15 people and injuring over 100. Tens of thousands of Spaniards and foreigners are to stage a defiant march against terror through Barcelona on August 26 following last week's deadly vehicle rampages. The Mediterranean city is in mourning after a van ploughed into crowds on Las Ramblas boulevard on August 17, followed hours later by a car attack in the seaside town of Cambrils. (Photo by Juan Carlos Lucas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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In addition to the 13 killed by the van, two others were killed during the driver's getaway and in a separate car and knife attack in the Catalan coastal resort of Cambrils.

Of the 12 suspects linked to the attacks, six were shot dead by police and two died in an explosion before the van rampage. Two are in custody on charges of murder and membership of a terrorist organization, and two have been freed on certain conditions.

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