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Tourist Tells Of How He Comforted Dying Boy On Las Ramblas

'I had to go to that child. I was not going to leave that child.'

23/08/2017 11:55 AM AEST | Updated 23/08/2017 11:57 AM AEST

A British tourist caught up in the terror attack on Las Ramblas last Thursday has described how he comforted a dying boy as Barcelona police shouted at him to flee the carnage.

Harry Athwal was inside a restaurant when he saw a white van speed down the tourist strip, sending pedestrians "flying into the air".

I knew what I had to do. I had to go to that child, I was not going to leave that child."

The Brit told ITV's Good Morning Britain that the street was strewn with bodies, but right in the middle there was a young boy, obviously badly injured.

"As soon as I saw that child I knew what I had to do, I had to go to that child, I was not going to leave that child," he said.

"I checked for a pulse. He didn't have a pulse. I put my hand on his back and he wasn't breathing. All I could do then was just sit with that child.

"He had long hair. I just stroked his hair to see if I could comfort him."

Athwal says the boy appeared to be about seven or eight years old -- the same age as his own son.

It is also roughly the same age as seven-year-old Australian boy Julian Cadman, who has been named as one of the victims of the terror attack, but it has not been confirmed whether he was the boy Athwal comforted.

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Athwal described comforting a long-haired young boy as he lay dying, but it's not confirmed whether that boy was 7-year-old Julian Cadman, who was confirmed dead by family on Sunday.

A Catalan police officer rushing to the scene shouted at him to run.

"He was shouting at me to get up and move," Athwal said.

"I said 'no, I'm not moving I'm not leaving this child' and I wasn't going to leave him for anybody. I just sat there stroking his hair. I was crying, I was in tears, I was scared."

"I didn't want to move him, I wanted to comfort him, but if something were to happen I would have picked him up and I was going to get him out of the way because I'd be damned if someone was going to hurt him."

Athwal said he has not yet been able to discover what happened to the youngster, as he urged others to act if they were caught up in a terror attack.

Stringer . / Reuters
Tourist hotspot Las Ramblas was cleared by police in the wake of the van attack.

Fifteen people were killed in coordinated terror attacks in Spain last Thursday and Friday. Julian, 7, was one of 13 victims of a van attack on Las Ramblas.

Van driver Younes Abouyaaqoub fled the scene and later killed another man while hijacking a getaway car. The fifteenth victim was killed in a separate attack on a seaside resort 110 kilometres away in Cambrils.

A three-day-long international manhunt for the van driver, Abouyaaqoub, ended when he was shot dead by Spanish police on Monday. The 22-year-old suspected Islamic militant was wearing a fake explosives vest when he was killed.

Hours after Abouyaaqoub was killed, three men were arrested attempting to evade security checks at Barcelona Airport.

But it appears that the attacks could have been much worse, with one suspected militant telling a Spanish court that one or more major bomb attacks were planned, possibly against churches or monuments.

Three of the four suspects who appeared in court have been denied bail, the ABC reports.

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