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Man steals gas truck, drives head-on into highway traffic

MADRID -- Police in Barcelona fired gunshots Tuesday to stop a Swedish man who stole a butane gas truck and drove it at high speed against traffic on a city highway, ramming several cars along the way, a police spokeswoman said. The man was arrested and is being questioned.

A regional police spokeswoman said no one was wounded from the police gunshots but injuries couldn’t be ruled out because the truck lost several butane gas tanks as the man tried to escape by speeding down a highway near the northeastern Spanish city’s famed harbor. The incident took place around 11 a.m. Tuesday (1000 GMT).

Police in Spain’s northeast Catalonia region, where Barcelona is located, told CBS News the man is believed to have psychological problems.

The Mossos d’Esquadra official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with the force’s policy.

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A gas company worker unloads gas bottles from a delivery truck with bullet holes in its windscreen after police fired shots to stop the driver, whom they say had stolen the truck and was driving against traffic in Barcelona, Spain, February 21, 2017. REUTERS

Several cars were hit during the attempted escape, she said, adding that the truck had been stolen earlier in the day in a nearby district.

The man was being interrogated and a full investigation into the incident has begun, she said, adding that police were not ruling out any hypothesis.

Spain has kept its national security alert to one step below maximum since July 2015, following violent attacks in France and elsewhere.

In August 2016, as thousands of revellers packed a pedestrian esplanade in Nice to mark Bastille Day in France, a French-Tunisian man careened through the crowd in a deliberate attack, leaving almost 90 people dead.

French investigators say the attacker was inspired by ISIS propaganda on the internet, but had no links to the terror group.