Italian father killed in front of kids in Barcelona attack

People mourning at the site of the deadly van attack in Barcelona, Spain, on Aug 18, 2017.
People mourning at the site of the deadly van attack in Barcelona, Spain, on Aug 18, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

ROME (AFP) - A man who was one of two Italians killed in the Barcelona attack died in front of his wife and two young children who narrowly escaped harm when a van ploughed into tourists.

The death of Mr Bruno Gulotta, 35, was announced by his employer, computer company Tom's Hardware, on Friday (Aug 18).

The Foreign Ministry said two Italian nationals were among the 13 people killed in Thursday's attack, but did not identify them.

"Our friend and colleague Bruno Gulotta was run over and killed by an odious terrorist in the heart of Barcelona," a statement on the company website read.

Paying tribute to the kindness and generosity of their co-worker, Mr Gulotta's colleagues said his violent death had left his wife Martina facing "trials no one should have to bear".

"We put ourselves in the shoes of little Alessandro, who was is about to start elementary school knowing his and his family's life will never be the same again. And we think of baby Aria... who will never know her Dad."

Italian media reported that Mr Gulotta had been holding five-year-old Alessandro's hand just before he was hit by the van. Martina had one-year-old Aria in a baby carrier and managed to pull her son out of the way.

The family, from Legnano, were on holiday in the Catalan city.

The attack, which has been claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group, left more than 100 people of at least 24 nationalities injured, as well as the 13 dead.

The Foreign Ministry said three Italians were among the injured but did not rule out the toll mounting.

"There are still other people to be identified and the Spanish authorities are working on that at the moment," said Mr Stefano Verracchia, head of  the ministry's crisis unit.