The Deadliest Vehicle Attacks in Europe

Terrorist vehicle-ramming attacks have become an increasing concern in Europe.
Terrorist vehicle-ramming attacks have become an increasing concern in Europe.

Terrorists around the world resort to several types of deadly attacks in order to take the largest number of lives possible. Terror attacks are often associated with bombs and shootings, but terrorists have also turned to vehicle attacks in recent years. These attacks generally involve driving a vehicle into a large group of people, which are unfortunately becoming more commonplace, particularly in Europe. This article highlights some of the deadliest vehicle attacks that have occurred in Europe.

July 14, 2016 - Nice, France

On July 14, 2016, a terrorist drove into a crowd of hundreds of Bastille Day celebrators. The attack took place on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. The vehicle, a 19-tonne cargo truck, was driven at a speed of 56 miles per hour off the roadway and onto the sidewalk, plowing through several barriers and into a crowd. After weaving through the people, the driver of the truck headed toward Hotel Negresco. On the way, two civilians attempted to stop the attacker. One cyclist jumped onto the running board of the truck, but faced the risk of being shot. The other, a motorcyclist, steered his bike toward the front tires of the truck to slow it down and attacked the driver through the window, but was struck in the head with the gun handle and fell to the ground. When police caught up to the truck, gun shots were fired and two officers killed the attacker. The terrorist group ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack. In total, 86 individuals were killed.

August 16, 2017 - Barcelona, Spain

On August 16, 2017, a terrorist drove a van into a popular pedestrian mall, known as La Rambla. The van was driven for approximately 1,800 feet through crowds of shoppers, tourists, and cyclists. The van was forced to be stopped by the vehicle's emergency system, which shut down the motor in response to the hits that the vehicle had sustained. The attacker fled the vehicle, ran to the road and stole another car, killing its driver in the process.

On the same day, a group of five terrorists drove a car into a crowd of pedestrians in Cambrils, left the vehicle, and began attacking bystanders with knives. Police caught up with the group and shot and killed four on site. The fifth attacker died later as a result of injuries. One of these individuals was the brother of the La Rambla attacker. The original terrorist was found by the police on August 21 in the village of Subirats, where he was wearing a false suicide vest. He was shot and killed.

In the La Rambla attack, 15 individuals were killed in total: 13 at the scene, 1 from injuries a week and a half later, and the driver of the stolen vehicle. One individual was killed in the Cambrils attack. The attacks were considered part of an Islamic terrorist plot.

December 19, 2016 - Berlin, Germany

On December 19, 2016, a terrorist stole a delivery truck, purportedly killing its driver. The attacker then drove the truck into a busy Christmas Market in the Breitscheidplatz area of City West of Berlin. The truck plowed through shoppers for approximately 160 feet before being turned around and stopping a nearby church. The driver escaped the vehicle, and was followed by an onlooker. This ISIL-related event caused 12 deaths and 56 injuries.

Four days later, Italian police officials found the suspect on a train station near Milan. He was shot and killed after shooting a police officer. His fingerprints matched the fingerprints found in the stolen delivery truck.

June 3, 2017 - London, England

On June 3, 2017, three Islamic terrorists drove a rented van onto the sidewalk of the London Bridge. The drivers first came across the bridge in a southern direction, turned around and headed north, and made a final turn to cross the bridge in a southbound direction. The van had an accident at Borough High Street, after which the three men left the vehicle and began stabbing people in restaurants and bars located on Stoney Street. Local police officials arrived to the scene, shooting all three men. Police later discovered that the rental van was filled with blowtorches and glass bottles filled with flammable liquids. In total, eight individuals were killed.

April 7, 2017 - Stockholm, Sweden

On April 7, 2017, a member of ISIL hijacked a delivery truck and drove it along one of the principal shopping streets in Stockholm. For approximately 1,600 feet, the attacker swerved along the street, hitting as many individuals as possible. The truck crashed into a local store, where it caught on fire, and the driver exited the vehicle and escaped. Police uncovered an undetonated bomb in the vehicle during the crime scene investigation. Several suspects were arrested in relation to the case, and one individual confessed to the crime just four days after the attack. As a result of this event, five individuals were killed, four of whom died in the hospital. Another 15 people were injured.

March 22, 2017 - London, England

On March 22, 2017, an Islamic terrorist acted alone and drove a vehicle onto the sidewalk of the Westminster Bridge in London, England. The driver wrecked and exited the vehicle, heading toward the New Palace Yard. Here, the 52-year old man attacked an unarmed police officer, stabbing him to death. An armed police officer witnessed the attack and shot and killed the attacker. Four individuals suffered fatal wounds on the bridge and another 50 people were injured. Police officials later reported that the terrorist had sent a message prior to the attacks, claiming jihad in response to western involvement in Middle Eastern countries.

June 19, 2017 - London, England

On June 19, 2017, a terrorist drove a rented van into a group of individuals in Finsbury Park in London, England. The crime scene is located near the Finsbury Park Mosque and the Muslim Welfare House. One group of the injured individuals (all Muslims) were performing first aid on another Muslim man who had been found collapsed at the bus station. The man being treated was killed during the attack. The men detained the terrorist until police arrived. Reportedly, the attacker wanted revenge for the London Bridge incident, claiming he wanted to kill all Muslims. The event is under investigation but is being treated as a terrorism-related murder.

The Deadliest Vehicle Attacks In Europe

RankDate of attackEuropean cityNumber of fatalities
1July 14,2016Nice86
2August 16, 2017Barcelona13
3December 19, 2016Berlin12
4June 3, 2017London8
5April 7, 2017Stockholm5
6March 22, 2017London4
7June 19, 2017London1

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