Quiet seaside resort of Cambrils emerges from a terrifying night

"Then we heard shots and thought it must be fireworks.. But it was gunshots"

Markel Artabe had just finished his shift as a waiter in Cambrils and was heading off for an ice-cream when he heard shots: only a few hours after the carnage in Barcelona, the Catalan coast was suffering another attack.

"Between midnight and 12:30am we were on the promenade by the beach," said the 20-year-old. "Then we heard shots and thought 'it must be fireworks'... But it was gunshots." said the waiter in the seaside resort 120 kilometres south of Barcelona in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

Cambrils is a quiet resort 120 kilometres south of Barcelona in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia. According to the regional government, "Suspected terrorists driving an Audi A3 apparently knocked over several people"  before encountering a police patrol. "Then the shooting began."

At least six civilians and a policeman were injured when the vehicle slammed into the crowd. One of the civilians injured is in critical condition, emergency services said on Twitter.The five occupants of the car were killed, the Catalan police said - one on the spot and the fifth dying of his wounds later. .

"It was bang, bang, bang. Shouting, more shouting. I threw myself onto the ground on the beach," said another waiter, Joan Marc Serra Salinas, 21, in a restaurant where witnesses to the attack had gathered. "From what people are saying here, those who carried out (the attack) were people of my age..."

Mr Martabe said he saw someone who appeared to be a foreigner lying on the ground "with a gunshot to the head. His friends were crying out 'help'." However the authorities have not reported any such death.

"I also saw dead bodies that seemed to be terrorists because they were wearing explosive belts," the waiter added.

The mayor of Cambrils, Cami Mendoza, noted the "speed and efficiency" of the Catalan police response, at an impromptu 5am press briefing in the street.

The town, like others in the region, was on high alert as the police were hunting the driver of the van in the Barcelona attack,claimed by ISIL,  in which 13 people were killed. Police helicopters flew over the town throughout the night.

"We were appalled. It was a long and difficult night,"Mr Mendoza said. As the sun rose, the mayor sought to reassure people: "The situation is under control. In a few hours Cambrils will be back to normal."