Saturday 18 November 2017

New York terror: Five friends celebrating anniversary among eight dead as attacker identified

  • Five friends celebrating birthday trip among those killed
  • Driver identified by law enforcement officials as Sayfullo Saipov (29)
  • Suspect expected to survive after being shot by police
  • Deadliest terror event since 9/11
  • Trump to step up extreme vetting
  • Taoiseach Varadkar expresses condolences after 'heartless attack'
Police said a man drove a rented Home Depot truck on to the cycle path on West Street at around 3pm local time on Tuesday, killing eight people and leaving at least 11 others injured.
Police said a man drove a rented Home Depot truck on to the cycle path on West Street at around 3pm local time on Tuesday, killing eight people and leaving at least 11 others injured.
This undated photo provided by St. Charles County Department of Corrections via KMOV shows the suspect Sayfullo Saipov. (St. Charles County Department of Corrections/KMOV via AP)
This image made from a video provided by Tawhid Kabir shows the suspect in a deadly attack running across the street with a fake gun in each hand on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. The man mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, before he was shot in the abdomen by police after jumping out of the truck, authorities said. (YouTube/Tawhid Kabir via AP)
This image made from a video provided by Tawhid Kabir shows the suspect in a deadly attack being apprehended by police on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. The man mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, before he was shot in the abdomen by police after jumping out of the truck, authorities said. (YouTube/Tawhid Kabir via AP)
Multiple bikes are crushed along a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Multiple bikes are crushed along a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A damaged school bus is seen at the scene of a pickup truck attack in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media courtesy of SEBASTIAN SOBCZAK
A damaged school bus is seen at the scene of a pickup truck attack in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. Sebastian Sobczak via REUTERS, COURTESY SEBASTIAN SOBCZAK
Authorities are seen at a damaged school bus near the scene of a pickup truck attack in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. Sebastian Sobczak via REUTERS, COURTESY SEBASTIAN SOBCZAK
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A group of five friends from Argentina were among those killed when a rental truck was driven into pedestrians and cyclists on a bike path in Manhattan, the country's foreign ministry has said.

The compatriots were celebrating the 30th anniversary of their graduation from Polytechnic College in the city of Rosario in central Argentina.

A statement from the ministry confirmed the deaths of Hernan Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damian Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernan Ferruchi and said the government passed on its deepest condolences.

A sixth Argentinian man with the group named as Martin Ludovico Marro is being treated at the Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan, the ministry added.

Police said a man drove a rented Home Depot truck on to the cycle path on West Street at around 3pm local time on Tuesday, killing eight people and leaving at least 11 others injured.

The driver, who has been identified by law enforcement officials as Sayfullo Saipov, 29, from Uzbekistan, was shot by police after jumping out of the vehicle with what turned out to be two fake guns.

It later emerged Saipov had been working as an Uber driver after passing a background check, according to a spokeswoman for the app.

In a statement, the firm added: "We are horrified by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts are with the victims and their families. We have reached out to law enforcement to provide our full assistance."

The suspect was taken to hospital and is in police custody. Officers said his injuries are not life-threatening.

According to reports in Argentina, the five victims were part of a group of 10 people. Of them, four were unharmed and communicated with their families in the aftermath of the attack - the deadliest in New York since 9/11.

One of the members of the group - Ariel Erlij - paid for the trip for two of his former classmates, who could not afford the cost of the tickets, reports said.

Argentina's president Mauricio Macri tweeted "Profoundly moved by the tragic deaths this afternoon in NY. We are at the disposal of the families of the Argentinian victims" and f oreign minister Jorge Faurie said that his heart was with the family and friends of those who had died "at this moment of deep and inexplicable pain".

A Belgian national was also among those killed in the attack.

The country's deputy prime minister and foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders said on Twitter: "I am deeply saddened to announce a Belgian victim in #Manhattan - I express my condolences to the family and friends."

In a statement President Donald Trump praised the actions of the first responders and tweeted that the incident "looks like another attack by a very sick and deranged person".

The president also tweeted: "We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!"

The terrorist group has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Trump later said on Twitter he had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to step up its already "extreme vetting" programme, adding: "Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!"

Meanwhile the UK Foreign Office has said it is standing by to provide assistance to any Britons affected by the atrocity.

A spokesman said: "We are in contact with the local authorities and stand ready to provide any assistance but are not aware of any British citizens involved as yet."

Prime Minister Theresa May tweeted that she was "appalled by this cowardly attack", adding: "My thoughts are with all affected. Together we will defeat the evil of terrorism. UK stands with #NYC."

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York described the attack as "a particularly cowardly act of terror" that was "aimed at innocent civilians going about their daily lives".

Authorities respond near a damaged school bus Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. A motorist drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial and struck several people on Tuesday police and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Authorities respond near a damaged school bus Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. A motorist drove onto a busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial and struck several people on Tuesday police and witnesses said. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Authorities investigate the wreckage of a Home Depot truck, top left, and a body under a white cloth, top right, after a motorist drove the truck down the bike path Tuesday Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. The motorist drove onto the busy bicycle path near the World Trade Center memorial Tuesday, killing several. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Authorities stand near a damaged Home Depot truck after a motorist drove onto a bike path near the World Trade Center memorial, striking and killing several people Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
A Home Depot truck which struck down multiple people on a bike path, killing several and injuring numerous others, is seen as New York city first responders are at the crime scene in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
NYPD investigators are at the crime scene near a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Police investigate a vehicle allegedly used in a ramming incident on the West Side Highway in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A Home Depot truck which drove down the bike path alongside the West Side Highway at full speed and hit several people is seen as New York city first responders are at the crime scene near a bike path in lower Manhattan in New York, NY, U.S., October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Emergency crews attend the scene of an alleged shooting incident on West Street in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 31 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Pedestrians run off the street after a shooting incident near Chamber St. in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Police block off the street after a shooting incident in New York City, U.S. October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

New York governor Andrew Cuomo said it was a "lone wolf" attack, and there was no evidence it was part of a wider plot.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed his condolences to the people of New York.

"This was a vicious and heartless attack on the people of New York, striking just a few blocks from the site of the 9/11 atrocity," he said.

"Those who have been killed and injured were innocent victims going about their day, completely unaware of what was about to happen.

"I would like to express our solidarity with New Yorkers, who have faced considerable adversity in the past. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims."

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