Barcelona terror: Pope Francis joins Catholics in praying for victims of 'utterly reprehensible' attack

Pope Francis is joining other Catholic leaders to pray for victims of a terrorist attack in Barcelona on Thursday evening.

At least 13 were killed and dozens more injured after a van rammed through a crowded street in the Spanish city.

ReutersThe van used in the attack is towed away from the area where it crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain.

In a separate incident in the town of seaside town of Cambrils, Spanish police shot dead five suspected terrorists to prevent a second vehicle attack, linked to the first in Barcelona. Seven people were injured, one of who is critical, in the second attack.

'The Holy Father has learned with great concern what is happening in Barcelona,' a statement from the Holy See press office read. 'The Pope prays for victims of this attack and wishes to express his closeness to all the Spanish people, particularly the injured and families of the victims.'

It comes after the secretary general of the Spanish Bishops Conference, Bishop Jose Gil Tamayo, released a statement on Twitter saying: 'We follow with concern and prayers the situation of victims of the mass trampling in Las Ramblas. Our solidarity with the victims and Barcelona.'

The Spanish leaders were joined by American Catholics with Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, chair of the international justice and peace committee for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, calling the attack 'utterly reprehensible'.

He said: 'Once again, an act of terror has taken more than a dozen lives and injured scores of others,;

He added the US bishops' conference 'unequivocally condemns this morally heinous act and places itself in solidarity with the people of the Archdiocese of Barcelona and Spain at this terrible time of loss and grief'.

He went on: 'Our prayers are with the families of those slain and injured in a particular way as we also pray for an end to terrorism.

'May God comfort the afflicted and convert the hearts of those who would perpetrate such acts. May our Lord bless both our world and those suffering today from this attack with the gift of peace.'

Three days of national mourning has been declared by Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and a minute's silence will be held later on Friday.