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'I'm no hero' - Great Barr man rushed to the aid of young Barcelona terror victim

By Alex Ross | Great Barr | News | Published: | Last Updated:

'I'm no hero - it was just pure instinct to go and help a child so badly injured in the street'

People flee from the scene in Las Ramblas. Inset: Harry Athwal

A father-of-two from the Black Country has described the moment he came to the aid of a young boy in the wake of the terrorist attack in Barcelona.

In a telephone interview this morning from his hotel on Las Ramblas, Harry Athwal, 44, from Great Barr, has told the Express & Star how he saw the white van used by terrorists followed by bodies being thrown up into the air.

Sitting on first floor restaurant balcony, the project manager who lives off Newton Road, then ran from his seat.

The scene after the attack in Barcelona

He said: "I knew straight away what was happening and got up to run outside to see how I could help.

"When I got out of the restaurant I ran into the middle of Las Ramblas and looked around - there were bodies strewn left and right around me including a child right in the middle of it all.

"It was the one thing which caught my eye and I ran straight to him.

"He was bad. His leg was broken and he was lying down on his front. There was blood on his face. The first thing I did was check his pulse, but there was nothing.

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"At that point I am panicking, the police are screaming at me to get out of the road in case of another van, but I was not going to leave this boy here. I have a son the same age, and that is going through my head.

"The next 10 minutes felt like an eternity, paramedics started to come, but they went to people as they came across them. Eventually one came and a policeman ordered me away."

Police on Las Ramblas in wake of attack

Mr Athwal was told to go into a pharmacy where around 35 other people were inside, including his sister Kinde Dehl, who is from Birmingham. Among those inside were two injured women.

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The group stayed in the pharmacy for five hours until police allowed them to leave.

Mr Athwal, who does not know the fate of the young boy he went to help, said: "We got back to our hotel and we were all in shock. On Friday we sat around reliving what happened. The atmosphere in the city is surreal."

Mr Athwal had flown to Barcelona on the day of the terrorist attack, arriving at his hotel, Hotel Rivoli, at 2.30pm.

He was joining a group of friends which included his sister.

They had a drink before finding the restaurant on the avenue, staying there for around an hour and a half before the attack took place at 5pm.

Mr Athwal said his group were to venture north of the city today, before returning home on Monday night.

He lives with this wife Harjinder and sons Diernn, aged 19, and Khye, 8.

He said: "My family look forward to me coming back, friends and family have seen pictures of me in the media.

"But I'm no hero - it was just pure instinct to go and help a child so badly injured in the street."

Today, Spanish police hunting the driver of the van are focusing efforts on Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan national, according to reports.

Another suspect Moussa Oukabir, who is thought to have rented the van, was among five men shot dead in a second attack in the coastal town of Cambrils.

He reportedly died along with Said Aallaa, 19, and Mohamed Hychami, 24.

The identities of the other two dead jihadists are yet to be confirmed by police.

Four men, aged 21, 27, 28 and 34, who were arrested in connection with the attack remain in custody.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which has left 13 dead and nearly 130 injured.

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
@alexross_star

Chief Reporter at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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