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Death Toll at 84 and Rising After Attack on Crowd Celebrating Bastille Day in France

Death Toll at 84 and Rising After Attack on Crowd Celebrating Bastille Day in France

 

This story has been updated.

A truck plowed into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice Thursday evening, killing at least 84 people in the latest apparent terrorist attack to rock France.

Video footage from the scene shows chaos as the driver of the tractor-trailer opened fire on the crowd and then drove for more than a mile along the city’s main street, Promenade des Anglais, both shooting and running over civilians before police shot him to death. Photos in French media showed the bullet-riddled windshield of the truck used in the attack, which left scores wounded.

Although details about the attack and the perpetrator continue to emerge, Christian Estrosi, the former mayor of Nice and current president of the regional council to which the city belongs, said the truck was loaded to the brim with grenades and firearms. “The driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him,” Estrosi told BFM, a French television network. He also said the driver had “completely premeditated behavior.”

Pierre-Henry Brandet, a spokesman for the French Interior Ministry, told Agence France-Presse that despite some reports to the contrary, no one was taken hostage by the attacker.

“An individual drove a truck into the crowd. He was killed by police,” he said. “Investigations are currently underway to establish if the individual acted alone or if he had accomplices who might have fled.”

France declared three days of national mourning. In a nationally televised address Friday, French President François Hollande said there was a clear “terrorist character” to the attack, which he described as a “monstrosity.”

“The horror — the horror has, once again, hit France,” he said.

The attack comes around eight months after Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people in a series of coordinated attacks across Paris, including at a popular concert hall, the Bataclan. It also came just hours after Hollande announced that the country’s extended state of emergency, in place since after the deadly November attacks, would be lifted later this month.

No one has taken immediate responsibility for Thursday’s attack, which occurred despite intense French security preparations ahead of the annual holiday that commemorates the French Revolution. According to SITE Intelligence Group, one issue of Inspire, an Islamic State-linked, English-language magazine, called for militants to attach blades to the front of trucks and drive them into crowds. In Israel, scores of civilians have been killed after Palestinian terrorists crashed cars and trucks into people gathered at bus stops and other outdoor locations.

According to the White House, U.S. President Barack Obama has been briefed on the situation. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who was set to announce his running mate at an event in New York Friday, tweeted that he would postpone the event out of solidarity with those killed and injured in France.

The following video, taken by France 24, shows footage from the attack:

Photo credit: VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images