An Irish family of four are among the hundreds of innocent people injured in the terrorist attack in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona on Thursday night. A white van mounted the pavement in the busy neighborhood popular with tourists killing 13 pedestrians. Isis claimed responsibility for the massacre.
A couple, both naturalized Irish citizens born in the Philippines, and and their two Irish children were among the holiday-makers on the historic boulevard when the attack took place. Their son, who was celebrating his fifth-birthday, suffered a broken leg and his father also sustained leg injuries and suspected internal injuries.
Details of those murdered are now being released. The 13 dead include a three-year-old baby girl, her mother and 65-year-old great uncle who lived in the region. The first name released among the dead is that Bruno Gulotta. Authorities have confirmed that there are victims from at least 18 countries: Argentina, Australia, China, Belgium, Cuba, France, Spain, Holland, Hungary, Peru, Romania, Ireland, Greece, Macedonia, Italy and Venezuela, without specifying whether they were wounded or dead.
The first victim of the Barcelona terror attack has been named as Bruno Gulotta pic.twitter.com/Rr1S98rhkH— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 18, 2017
Spanish police have arrested three people in the wake of the attack and continue to hunt to the driver of the vehicle, who is said to have fled the scene of the crime on foot.
Hours after the van attack in Barcelona, police said they shot and killed five suspects in response to another terrorist attack in the seaside resort town of Cambrilas, 74 miles south of Barcelona.
Security forces also found a second van connected to the Barcelona attack in the town of Vic, 40 miles from Barcelona and 18 miles south of Ripoll.
In a separate incident, a driver of a Ford Focus ran into two police officers at a checkpoint in Sant Just Desvern, just five miles from Las Ramblas. The driver was shot and killed by police. It is not known if this was related to the attack.
Speaking about the Irish injured in the Barcelona attack Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the Irishman’s injuries were “not life-threatening, I’m relieved to say.”
He added, “But in a way, it’s a miracle that more Irish people weren’t involved, given that there are so many Irish people in Spain, Barcelona and Cambrils at this time of year.”
A member of IrishCentral’s staff, Roman Brochard, based in Barcelona, reported that the area of Las Ramblas and Placa Catalunya continues to be closed and guarded by armed police vehicles on Friday morning. While local business and the population of the busy city attempt to resolutely go about their day there’s an eerie quietness to the usually busy area.
On Friday at 12pm hundreds turned out to remember the dead with a minutes silence. IrishCentral's Brochard took this video:
Authorities have reported that the death toll of this attack is expected to grow as those injured continue to be treated.
Dr Emmanuel Fernandez, Consul General of the Philippines embassy in Madrid, spoke to RTÉ’s "Morning Ireland" about the Irish family injured in the attack. He said, “the father was hit on his side, he was not seriously injured but there’s talk that he may need an operation.”
“They are tourists who had come from Ireland to celebrate their son’s birthday, but obviously that didn’t happen”.
The family have been named as Norman and Pederlita Putot, and the son and daughter are Nathaniel (5) and Pearl Putot (9).
Spanish police continue to hunt for the man responsible, the driver of the white van. He was identified by Spanish news agency EFE as Moussa Oukabir. Moussa is the younger brother of Driss Oukabir, whose identification was used to rent the van and whose photo police released in the aftermath of the attack. Driss is a Moroccan national who, according to his Facebook account, lives in Ripoll, Catalonia, about 50 miles north of Barcelona. Driss, who reportedly handed himself into the police, claims his brother stole his identity card and that he was in Ripoll when the attack was taking place.
Catalonia's interior ministry has reported that there is no evidence the driver, who fled, was armed. Initially, police said they were hunting a man of 5ft 5ins (1.7m) in height, wearing a white shirt with blue stripes. Two men, one Spanish and one from Morocco, were arrested in Ripoll and Alcanar, 135 miles south of Barcelona.
Ireland’s President Michael D Higgins led condemnation of the attacks. He said “Barcelona has a long history of hospitality and has over the years received so many people from around the world.
“As President of Ireland, I want to send the people of this great and welcoming city not only our sympathy but also the solidarity of the people of Ireland.”
Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said, “An attack of this nature, targeting the people of Barcelona and visitors enjoying that wonderful city in the height of the tourist season, is both wanton and cowardly and has no place in our society.
“At this time of immense grief, I want to offer our solidarity and support to the people of Spain, with whom we have such close relations.”
The Govt & people of Ireland stand with the people of Barcelona at this time of immense grief. We offer our sympathy, solidarity & support.— Leo Varadkar (@campaignforleo) August 17, 2017
On behalf of Irish government, I wish to convey sincere condolences and solidarity with people of Barcelona and Spain this evening— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) August 17, 2017
Ireland’s Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said, “It is clear that the intention of those who carried out this appalling, evil act was to kill, wound and terrorize innocent people enjoying the freedoms we share and cherish,” he said.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”