Bastille Day terror:Night of horror in Nice attack

July 15, 2016 9:30 am

• French officials say more than 84 dead in attack.
• More than 100 people injured, 18 critically, after truck ploughs into crowd celebrating Bastille Day.
• Man behind wheel of truck fired shots into crowd after crash.
• Driver shot dead by police.

Dawn
has revealed pools of dried blood, smashed children’s strollers, an
uneaten baguette and other debris strewn about the promenade, after a
terror attack hit the streets of Nice.
A gunman smashed a truck
into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day in the French resort
of Nice, killing at least 84 people in what President Francois Hollande
on Friday declared a “terrorist” attack.

What appeared to be bodies covered in blankets are today visible between the gaps in security screens.
Laurence
Marie from the Lenval paediatric hospital has told Reuters agency
that “many” children were undergoing serious operations there.
Police
shot the driver dead after he barrelled the truck two kilometres
through a crowd that had been enjoying a fireworks display for ’s
national day.
The palm-lined Promenade des Anglais was left strewn with bodies as hundreds fled in terror.
Authorities said they found identity papers
belonging to a 31-year-old French-Tunisian citizen in the 19-tonne
truck, and that the driver had fired a gun several times before he was
shot dead by police.
The attack was of an “undeniable terrorist
nature,” a sombre Hollande said in a televised national address,
confirming that several children were among the dead.
Interior
Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters on the scene that scores were
left injured including 18 in “critical condition”.

The truck which slammed into revellers. Photo / AP
Bastille Day is a celebration of everything France holds
dear – its secular republic and the values of “Liberte, Egalite,
Fraternite” (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity).
Earlier, onlookers
had enjoyed a day of military pomp and ceremony in Paris – where armed
forces, tanks and fighter jets swooped down the Champs Elysees avenue –
and spectacular firework displays.
“Families who were sharing a
moment of leisure were targeted. It was a symbolic day in a symbolic
place. That… motivated the attack,” said regional lawmaker Eric
Ciotti.

“Holding cold hands”

In a video
viewed over 2,500 times on Facebook, a trembling Tarubi Wahid Mosta told
of the horror on the promenade, where he took photos of an abandoned
doll and pushchair and came home with a victim’s Yorkshire terrier.
“I almost stepped on a corpse, it was horrible. It looked like a battlefield,” he said.

In a series of posts he described the sense of helplessness faced with the carnage.
“All
these bodies and their families … they spent hours on the ground
holding the cold hands of bodies dismembered by the truck. You can’t
even speak to them or comfort them.”
As the sun rose over the picturesque bay, forensic police swarmed the promenade.

A man walks near the scene of the attack. Photo / AP
The truck was riddled with bullet holes and badly damaged, with burst tyres.
Robert
Holloway, an AFP reporter who witnessed the white truck driving at
speed into the crowd, described scenes of “absolute chaos”.
“We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around. I had to protect my face from flying debris,” he said.
On Twitter, there were desperate pleas from those looking for news of loved ones.
Pictures of a young girl with braces or a teenager pulling a funny face were among dozens posted.

“Horrific terrorist attack”

The
attack is the third major strike against France in less than 18 months
and prosecutors said anti-terrorist investigators would handle the
probe.
It comes eight months after Islamic State attacks on Paris
nightspots left 130 people dead, dealing a hard blow to tourism in one
of the world’s top destinations.
US
condemned “what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack”, although no
group had yet claimed responsibility.
Hollande announced he would
extend France’s state of emergency for three months in the wake of this
latest attack and “step up” the government’s action against jihadists
in Syria and Iraq.

Soldiers, police officers and firefighters
walk near dead bodies covered with a blue sheets. Photo / Valery
Hache/AFP/Getty Images
“We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil,” he said, in reference to the Islamic State group.
He also called up army reservists to bolster security services that are stretched to the limit.
France
has been under a state of emergency ever since the November 13 Paris
carnage, which came after 17 were killed in another attack in January at
various sites including the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a
Jewish supermarket.
IS has repeatedly singled out France as a
prime target for its military action against the group in Iraq and
Syria, and hundreds of jihadists have left France to go and fight in its
ranks.

“He crushed a lot of people”

The
Mediterranean city of Nice, with its pebble beaches and clear blue
water, has been a magnet for sun-seekers and the jet-set since the 19th
century.
A witness named Nader told BFM television he had seen
the whole attack from start to finish, and had initially thought the
driver had “lost control”.
“He stopped just in front of me after
he (crushed) a lot of people. I saw a guy in the street, we were trying
to speak to the driver to get him to stop.
“He looked nervous.
There was a girl under the car, he smashed her. The guy next to me
pulled her out,” he said in broken English.

People react after the van drove into a crowd killing at least 84 people. Photo / Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Image
Nader said he saw the driver pull out a gun and start shooting at police.
“They killed him and his head was out the window.”
A source close to the investigation said an “inactive” grenade was found inside the truck, as well as “several fake rifles”.
Over
the past week, France had been breathing a sigh of relief after
successfully hosting the month-long Euro 2016 football championship,
which passed off without incident despite fears of attacks.
The
tournament brought an all-too-brief burst of joy to a gloomy France,
bogged down after the two attacks in 2015, violent anti-government
protests, strikes and floods.
European Council President Donald Tusk said: “It’s a sad day for France, for , for all of us.”
“The subjects of the attack were people celebrating liberty, equality and fraternity.”

Police officers carry out checks on vehicles in the center of French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. (AFP)

US President Barack Obama has been briefed on a deadly attack in the French city of Nice, the White House says.After a truck rammed into
people celebrating the French National Day, commonly known as the
Bastille Day, US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said
Obama had been notified of the attack.
“The
president has been apprised of the situation in Nice, France, and his
national security team will update him, as appropriate,” Price said.
Later, Obama released a statement, saying, “I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack.”
He
added that the he has been in touch with French officials and “offered
any assistance that they may need to investigate this attack.”
“We
stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as
they respond to and recover from this attack,” stated the US president.
“On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience
and Democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire
world, and we know that the character of the French republic will
endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry also released a statement, censuring those behind the “horrendous” attack.
“Today’s
horrendous attack in Nice is an attack against innocent people on a day
that celebrates Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” it read. I was
proud to stand alongside French leaders earlier today at Bastille Day
celebrations in Paris, and the United States will continue to stand
firmly with the French people during this time of tragedy. We will
provide whatever support is needed.
Republican candidate Donald Trump was another high-profile American to react to the attack.
“Another
horrific attack, this time in Nice, France. Many dead and injured. When
will we learn? It is only getting worse,” he said in a tweet.
In another tweet, Trump postponed a news conference concerning his vice presidential announcement.

At least 84 have lost their
lives and some 50 others sustained injuries when a truck ran through a
crowd of people celebrating the French National Day, commonly known as
the Bastille Day, in the southern French city of Nice.

The
truck rammed into the crowd on Thursday night as people had converged
on the Promenade des Anglais in the city during a firework display.
 Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said Friday that 18 people are in critical condition.

Nice
Mayor Christian Estrosi, who was attending the celebration at the time
of the assault, tweeted, “Dear people of Nice, the driver of a truck
seems to have left dozens dead. Stay for now in your home.”

Estosi described the incident as “the worst tragedy in the history of Nice.”

The
local government chief further noted that weapons and grenades were
found inside the truck after the driver was shot and killed.
AFP
quoted a police source as identifying the driver as a 31-year-old man
from Nice of Tunisian origin. “The identification of the truck driver is
still underway,” he said.

This photo allegedly shows the truck that plowed into the crowd.An
image published on Twitter showed a white lorry stopped in the middle
of the promenade with its front badly damaged. Four police officers were
also taking cover behind a palm tree.Another picture showed a
dozen people lying on the street in the aftermath of the truck attack.
Social media video also showed people running through the streets in
panic.

Medics tend to the victims of an attack in the southern French city of Nice on July 14, 2016.“Everyone
was calling run, run, run there’s an attack run, run, run. We heard
some shots. We thought they were fireworks because it’s July 14,” an
eyewitness told BFM television news network.“There was great
panic. We were running too because we didn’t want to stick around and we
went into a hotel to get to safety,” the witness added.
There
were some reports of gunfire exchange between security forces and the
occupants of the lorry, but they have not been confirmed.

Bodies
are seen on the ground after a van plowed into a crowd in the French
Riviera town of Nice, killing 80 people, July 14, 2016. ©Reuters
A spokesman for the French Interior Ministry also dismissed reports of a hostage situation in Nice.‘Terrorist attack’
Meanwhile,
French President Francois Hollande, who was in the southeastern commune
of Avignon, returned to Paris to join crisis meetings at the Interior
Ministry.
Later in comments broadcast live on TV, the French president said the truck attack in Nice was of a “terrorist character”.

“Nothing
will make us yield in our will to fight . We will further
strengthen our actions in Iraq and in Syria. We will continue striking
those who attack us on our own soil,” he said, in reference to the Daesh
Takfiri group.

‘Barbaric terror assault’
In
a Paris-drafted statement, the UN Security Council condemned “in the
strongest term” the “barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack in Nice.
“Any
acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable,” said the 15-member
council, describing terrorism as one of the most serious threats to
global peace.

Medics are evacuating the severely wounded to hospital following the attack in Nice.Local
media outlets reported that the French anti-terrorism investigation
department has been tasked with investigating the truck attack in Nice.Even
though no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, militant
outfits affiliated to the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group were reportedly
celebrating the deadly incident on social media networks.
The
deadly attack took place just a few hours after Hollande said the
country would not extend a state of emergency, which was imposed
following last November’s deadly terror attacks by the Daesh Takfiri
terrorist group in and around the capital Paris.
Hollande said in his comments that the state of emergency was extended by three months.

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