5 Argentinians Celebrating Their Graduation Anniversary Were Killed In The NYC Attack

by Jessicah Lahitou

Using his truck as a weapon, a man killed eight people and injured at least 11 others in New York City on Tuesday, in an attack that has been designated as terrorism. The government of Argentina has now confirmed that among the eight victims of the NYC terror attack, five were Argentine nationals.

A group of 10 friends from the city of Rosario, Argentina, had traveled to New York City on a celebratory trip to mark their 30-year anniversary of graduation from el Instituto Politécnico de Rosario, a polytechnic university in their hometown.

While riding bicycles in Lower Manhattan, five of the friends were killed when the terror suspect drove his truck into the bike lane. Another one was wounded and is currently in the hospital. Argentina's foreign ministry has released the names of the five who were killed: Diego Enrique Angelini, Ariel Erlij, Hernan Ferruchi, Hernan Diego Mendoza, and Alejandro Damián Pagnucco. A sixth friend, Martin Ludovico Marro, is recovering from injuries.

Among the fatally wounded victims was Erlij, who had helped finance the trip for several of the men. Erlij, 48, owned a steel production company, with plans to open a second location announced last March.

The government of Belgium has confirmed that one Belgian citizen was also killed in Tuesday's attack. There are three other Belgians who were injured.

Two of the eight people killed have not yet been identified.

After hitting several people on the bike path, the truck driver continued driving a short way before swerving and crashing into a school bus. Two children and two adults on the bus were injured in that collision.

According to witnesses, the driver, identified as Sayfullo Saipov, then exited his vehicle brandishing what looked like firearms. Authorities later revealed these to be only imitations. While running, Saipov reportedly encountered Ryan Nash, a police officer who was responding to a nearby call. Nash shot Saipov in the stomach, putting an end to the attack. Saipov is currently in the hospital.

According to one source cited at NPR, Saipov is a green card holder from Uzbekistan. He has worked as both a commerical truck driver and an Uber driver. The vehicle Saipov used in Tuesday's attack is a truck he rented from Home Depot, according to authorities.

Saipov first came to the United States in 2010, living first in Ohio, later in Florida, and finally in New Jersey.

A handwritten note was found near the truck. According to sources cited by CNN, that note indicated Saipov's attack on Tuesday was somehow related to ISIS. Paul Cruickshank, a terrorism analyst for CNN, told the outlet, "There has been a significant problem with jihadism in Uzbekistan." Cruickshank suggested investigative authorities will be looking to see if Saipov traveled to Uzbekistan at all while he was working and living in the United States.

Kobiljon Matkarov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan who knew Saipov while the latter was living in Florida, told the New York Times, "He [Saipov] liked the U.S. He seemed very lucky, and all the time he was happy and talking like everything is O.K. He did not seem like a terrorist, but I did not know him from the inside.”

Federal officials said Saipov had been on their radar before, though it was not clear if his name came up because of investigations into Saipov himself, or if he was tangentially related to other parties of interest.

A three-day mourning period for the five Argentine victims has been declared by the city of Rosario. The government of Argentina has expressed its condolences for the victims, and wishes of a swift recovery for Martin Ludovico Marro.

More to come...