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A wide-ranging anti-terror operation was under way in Spain on Friday after police killed five men wearing fake suicide belts in a town south of Barcelona, hours after a van mowed down dozens of people in the heart of the city.

In the early hours of Friday morning, police intercepted a group of five attackers in Cambrils, 120 kilometers south of Barcelona. All five were shot dead.

As the threat dawn upon Europe, it is time to initially devise tactical concepts for stopping these attacks

Hours earlier, at about 5 pm on Thursday, a white van careered into terrified crowds on Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s feted thoroughfare, when the street was packed with locals and tourists. At least 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured. The driver of the van fled on foot and was believed to be still at large on Friday.

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According to the police, they were “working on the hypothesis that the terrorists shot dead in Cambrils are linked to what happened in Barcelona”. Hundreds were injured in the Barcelona attack which has been claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.

Spain is not the first country to suffer from such attacks. In March, an assailant mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and stabbed a police officer outside Parliament.

With modern police at the disposal, European countries will not find it difficult to deal with the issue at this level

In early June, at least eight people were killed and dozens more wounded after two men sped across London Bridge in a white van, ramming numerous pedestrians before emerging with large hunting knives for a rampage in Borough Market, a crowded nightspot.

Is the European mainland not safe from terror attacks anymore?

Beginning from Paris attacks in 2015 in which more than 130 people were killed, Europe has seen an upsurge of lone wolf attacks in addition to a few coordinated ones. Most of these terrorist attacks have been attributed to the Islamist militants.

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This recent wave of terrorism in Europe comes in the wake of an upsurge in violence in the Middle East. Europe has also faced the biggest refugee crisis in several decades. Tens of thousands of refugees flooded mainland Europe which resulted in the closure of borders by several European states.

The new weapon appears to have caught the European security establishment off guard and it seems helpless to devise a strategy to counter this new weapon

Many western observers have iterated that the entry of thousands of unregistered refugees into mainland Europe has increased the vulnerability of Europe to terror attacks and has exacerbated the economic pressure on many European countries. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticized by her European counterparts, especially the British, for exposing Europe to the threat of terrorism by allowing massive entry of refugees into her country.

The attacks in France, Belgium, Germany, and the UK indicate that Europe is not safe from terror attacks anymore and needs a revised strategy to counter this menace.

The new weapon at terrorist’s disposal

The new weapon at the disposal of terrorist which has proven as deadly as any other weapon is a vehicle; a van, a car or a truck

It is not easy to possess a weapon in Europe. This encouraged the terrorist to innovate and devise new tactics to carry out their heinous terror attacks on unsuspecting civilians. The new weapon at the disposal of terrorist which has proven as deadly as any other weapon is a vehicle; a van, a car or a truck. The terrorists have used it to ram it into the pedestrians at high speed with deadly efficiency.

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The new weapon appears to have caught the European security establishment off guard and it seems helpless to devise a strategy to counter this new weapon. The use of this vehicle do not need training or any planning and is an effective weapon for lone wolf attackers. As the threat dawn upon Europe, it is time to initially devise tactical concepts for stopping these attacks. With modern police at the disposal, European countries will not find it difficult to deal with the issue at this level. However, this should be the start of a putting in place a comprehensive CT strategy for future eventualities.

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