Nice attack

FITW admin note:

Our thoughts, prayers and sympathies go out to the families affected by this attack in Nice. Children among the dead. There are no words…   ‪#‎PrayforNice‬ ‪#‎NiceAttack‬

 

The killing of 84 people celebrating Bastille Day is the worst attack on France since the 13 November attacks last year.

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The lorry was finally brought to a stop opposite a luxury hotel: police had raked the windscreen with bullets

The terror began a little after 22:30 (20:30 GMT) on Thursday, shortly after thousands of people had watched a firework display on the seafront in Nice, at the end of a day marking France’s national holiday, Bastille Day.

There had been a mood of celebration and the crowd had enjoyed an air force display during the evening.

As families strolled along the city’s renowned Promenade des Anglais, a large white lorry careered at full speed towards them. The vehicle mounted the kerb then went back on the road, zigzagging for up to 2km (1.25 miles), as the driver intentionally drove into the crowd.

A local MP spoke of hundreds of people being run over.

Police finally managed to bring the lorry to a halt near the luxury Palais de la Mediterranee hotel.

“I was opposite the Palais de la Mediterranee when I saw a lorry at high speed running over people. I saw it with my own eyes, people tried to stop it,” said one witness.

The driver opened fire on people in the crowd, according to local reports. Police fired back and the driver was eventually shot dead. Images from the scene showed the windscreen and front of the lorry raked with bullets. Interior ministry officials said the attacker had been “neutralised”.

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Thousands had gathered to watch the fireworks in stormy conditions in Nice

Who was driving the lorry?

The driver has been identified locally as a 31-year-old man of Franco-Tunisian origin from identity papers found inside the lorry.

He was named locally as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Police are yet to confirm the details, but were said to be searching his home in Nice.

The attacker was said to have hired the lorry from a rental in Saint-Laurent-du-Var, a town to the west of Nice two days earlier.

They also found guns and a grenade inside the lorry, but later said these were fake.

However, he was armed with a pistol, and had opened fire on police before being shot dead. It was not initially clear if he was acting alone.

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Lists of the missing were posted on social media: “Several children have died in the terrible #Nice06 attack. We’re thinking of their families. There are no words”

Who were the victims?

Nice residents and tourists alike were caught up in the attack.

It was clear that some of those who died were children, taken to the seafront by their parents to see the Bastille Day firework display.

Of the dozens of people wounded, as many as 54 were children who were being treated at Lenval children’s hospital in Nice, reports said.

Among the 84 who died, according to reports, was the assistant head of the Nice border police, Jean-Marc Leclerc.

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Nice was at its highest state of alert

In the area around Nice, the anti-terror alert has been raised to its highest level.

President Francois Hollande was flown back to Paris from a visit to Avignon, joining Prime Minister Manuel Valls in a crisis room. Mr Valls declared three days of mourning starting on Saturday.

Who was behind the attack?

It was not long before President Hollande said it was “an attack whose terrorist nature cannot be denied”.

Anti-terrorist prosecutors in Paris have launched an inquiry for murder and attempted murder as part of an organised terrorist strike.

Earlier this week, France’s DGSI internal security organisation warned of the danger of further attacks from Islamist militants with “booby-trapped vehicles and bombs”.

Although so-called Islamic State has not yet said it was behind the murders, it has targeted France on several occasions since January 2015.

Only hours before the Nice attack, President Hollande had announced that France’s state of emergency would be removed later this month. He later announced it was being extended.

Source: BBC News