France has been attacked again 80 people dead

nice

niceGun and truck attack leaves at least 80 dead in Nice: Men, women and kids strewn across road after lorry speeds for a MILE through holiday crowd watching fireworks, before gunman opens fire

  • At least 80 people are dead and 50 have been injured in a Bastille Day terror attack in Nice on the French Riviera
  • Eyewitnesses said the driver crashed his truck into a group of people, jumped down and opened fire with a gun
  • Thousands of people were in the southern French city watching fireworks display when the horrific attack began
  • Police confirmed identity documents belonging to a French Tunisian man, 31, from Nice were found in the truck
  • French President Francois Hollande confirmed children among dead and called it ‘undeniable’ it was terror attack

At least 80 people have been killed and more than 50 injured after a 25-tonne lorry mowed down crowds for more than a mile before the driver got out and sprayed fleeing revellers with bullets as terror struck Bastille Day celebrations on the French Riviera.

One eyewitness described seeing ‘bodies flying like bowling pins’ and ‘hearing noises, cries that I will never forget’ as the horror unfolded on a busy promenade in the southern city of Nice at around 11pm last night.

Identity documents belonging to a 31-year-old French Tunisian were later found in the bullet-riddled truck after the gunman at the wheel was shot dead by police marksmen, security sources said.

The source added: ‘The identification of the truck driver is still underway.’ The recovered papers indicate the man is a resident of Nice.

The truck driver was said to have shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is greatest – before being killed. Pro-ISIS groups have been celebrating the attack, orchestrated to coincide with France’s most important national holiday, but as yet the terror group has not officially claimed responsibility.

A huge cache of guns, grenades and ‘larger weapons’ were later found inside the lorry, which mounted the pavement at approximately 40mph and steered directly towards hundreds of people watching a fireworks display. Around 100 revellers are then said to have dived into the sea as panic ensued and holiday crowds desperately ran for their lives.

Anti-terror police swooped in as the city was put on lockdown and residents were warned to stay indoors for their safety.

Addressing the nation, French President Francois Hollande said several children were among the dead, with 80 victims confirmed so far and a further 20 people gravely wounded. He added that it was ‘undeniable’ the massacre was a terrorist attack.

Eyewitnesses say there was an exchange of gunfire in the aftermath of the incident before the driver was shot dead. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to unconfirmed reports in the French media.

Guns and grenades were later said to have been found inside the truck, which mounted the pavement at approximately 40mph and steered directly towards hundreds of people watching a fireworks display.

Anti-terror police swooped in as the city was put on lockdown and residents were warned to stay indoors for their safety. Gunshots rang out in the streets, with gunmen targeting hotels and cafes in the port city in the south of France.

One witness called Antoine said: ‘We were at the Neptune beach and a firework display had just finished. That is when we saw a white lorry. It was going quickly at 60-70 kilometres an hour.’

The gunman jumped out of the truck after ploughing through the pedestrians and began opening fire, witnesses said. Officials said the driver was shot dead near the scene. A second suspect is thought to be on the run.

Eyewitness Wassim Bouhlel said that he saw a truck drive into the crowd and then witnessed the man emerge with a gun and start shooting.

‘There was carnage on the road,’ Bouhlel said. ‘Bodies everywhere.’

Anti terrorist police have taken over the investigation into the attack according to the French interior ministry.

France’s ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, said last night’s incident was a ‘terrorist attack’.

Addressing a Bastille Day reception in Washington, Araud said: ‘Our democracies – France, the United States, our other partners , we are besieged, we face a terrible threat.’

As a result of last night’s attack, France has extended the state of emergency in the country for a further three months.

French Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said: ‘We are in a war with terrorists who want to strike us at any price and in a very violent way.’

TIMELINE OF TERROR: WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT NICE AND PREVIOUS ATTACKS IN THE PAST YEAR

PREVIOUS TERRORIST ATTACKS OVER THE PAST 12 MONTHS 

Istanbul  June 29, 2016

Triple suicide bombing at city’s Ataturk airport
Three attackers arrived in a taxi and began firing at the terminal entrance. They blew themselves up after police fired back – with CCTV footage capturing the moment one wounded extremist detonated his explosive vest seconds after a hero officer tried to detain him

Death toll: 41 Injuries: 230

Orlando June 12, 2016

Mass shooting at gay nightclub Pulse
Lone gunman Omar Mateen – a 29-year-old American security guard – sprayed bullets across the dancefloor before taking hostages after entering the Florida nightclub in the middle of the night armed with an AR-15. He was shot and killed by Orlando police after a three-hour standoff

Death toll: 49 Injuries: 53

Brussels March 22, 2016

Nail bombings in Brussels Airport
Two suicide bombers carrying homemade bombs in large suitcases attacked a departure hall at Brussels Airport in Zaventem. They exploded nine seconds apart. Another explosion took place just over an hour later in the middle carriage of a three-carriage train at Maalbeek metro station
Death toll: 35 Injuries: 340

Istanbul January 12, 2016

Suicide bomber detonates in the city’s tourist-heavy historical centre
Nabil Fadli, a Syrian member of the Islamic State walked up to a tour group standing in Sultanahmet Square and blew himself up. Most of the victims were German but also came from Peru, South Korea and Norway

Death toll: 13 Injuries: 15

Paris November 13, 2015

Bombings and shootings in Bataclan and across the French capital
A series of coordinated attacks occurred at the national stadium during a football match between France and Germany, followed by suicide bombings and mass shootings at cafés, restaurants and a music venue in the centre of the city

Death toll: 137 Injuries: 368

Bomb brings down Russian jet over Egypt
Metrojet Flight 9268 comes down in Sinai. Shortly after the crash, the Islamic State Sinai Branch, previously known as Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the incident

Death toll: 224

Tunisia June 26, 2015

Mass shooting at packed tourist beach
Attack occurred at Port El Kantaoui where hundreds of Brits were holidaying. Seifeddine Rezgui Yacoubi, disguised as a tourist, socialised with others, and then took out a Kalashnikov assault rifle concealed in a beach umbrella and fired at the tourists on the beach. He entered a hotel, shooting at people he came across

Death toll: 38 Injuries: 39

NICE: WHAT WE KNOW SO FAR 

French authorities confirmed that last night’s massacre was a terrorist atrocity.

At least 77 people have been killed after a truck slammed into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice.

Here is what we know about what US President Barack Obama has said ‘appears to be a horrific terrorist attack’.

Several children are among the dead while a further 20 people are gravely injured.

How did the attack unfold?

The large white truck plunged into the crowd at around 11:00pm (2100 GMT) Thursday night as hundreds of people were on Nice’s beachfront Promenade des Anglais to watch the fireworks for France’s national day.

Local deputy mayor Christian Estrosi said at least 77 people were killed after the truck ploughed two kilometres (1.3 miles) through the crowd.

Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet denied reports that people had been taken hostage.

The attacker has been shot dead, the government said. He is yet to be identified.

Was this a jihadist attack?

The attack has not been claimed by any group, but prosecutors say the probe will be handled by anti-terrorism investigators.

‘Investigations are currently underway to establish if the individual acted alone or if he had accomplices who might have fled,’ Brandet said.

The attack comes with France under a state of emergency following the Islamic State attacks in Paris in November that left 130 people dead.

Has anything like this happened in France before?

In December 2014, two men ploughed their cars into pedestrians in two days – separate incidents that left France reeling.

The first driver shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest) as he drove into people in the eastern city of Dijon, injuring 13.

The 40-year-old driver had a long history of mental illness, and no ties to jihadist groups, the government said.

A day later, a man rammed a white van into a Christmas market in the western city of Nantes, killing one person and injuring nine others. He then stabbed himself several times.

Prosecutors said a notebook was found in his vehicle in which he spoke of his ‘hatred for society’ and said he feared ‘being killed by secret agents’.

The man committed suicide in his prison cell in 2016 while awaiting trial.

What do we know about the suspect? 

French police have confirmed they have found identity documents in the truck belonging to a French Tunisian man.

The identity documents belong to a 31-year-old man.

However, they have not yet identified the dead man who was shot dead by police at the scene.

Officers fired at least 40 rounds into the truck.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet gave an update on the rapidly developing situation. He said: ‘There is no hostage-taking. An individual drove a truck into the crowd. He was killed by police.

‘Investigations are currently under way to establish if the individual acted alone or if he had accomplices who might have fled.’

Local politician Eric Ciotti said: ‘It’s a scene of horror.’ He confirmed the truck mowed down ‘several hundred people’.

He said the truck drove for more than a mile hitting people along the promenade.

Mr Ciotti confirmed the driver was killed by police ‘apparently after an exchange of gunfire’.

The truck was riddled with at least 40 bullet holes. The front of the vehicle was badly damaged while the front tyres had been shot out.

The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation for ‘murder, attempted murder in an organised group linked to a terrorist enterprise’.

The probe is being handled by France’s intelligence agency and judicial police.

A spokesman for the Alpes Maritime prefecture advised locals to ‘stay indoors’ as gunfire was heard, and a lorry was driven into a crowd on the Promenade des Anglais.

Eyewitnesses said there were ‘bodies everywhere’ with scores wounded, at least 20 of them ‘gravely’.

The truck driver crashed his vehicle and jumped out and started shooting.

Police are also searching for a possible accomplice.

At this stage, police are describing the incident as ‘a major criminal attack’.

Sebastian Humbert, prefect for the Alpes – Martime area said: ‘A truck rammed into the crowd over a long distance, which explains this extremely heavy toll.’

FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE ADDRESSED THE FRENCH PEOPLE HOURS AFTER THE MASSACRE

In an emotional speech, President Hollande said: ‘Last night a lorry hit a crowd of people in Nice with the intention of killing.

‘At the time i speak there are 77 victims, of which many are children.

‘Once again we have seen extreme violence and it is obvious we must do everything to fight against this terrorism.

‘The driver was shot and killed. We are investigating whether he was linked to any others.

French President Francois Hollande said it was undeniable that last night’s attack was a terrorist atrocity

‘France has been hit on its national day, the 14th of July.

‘I want to express my solidarity with the nation, which is now in mourning. I have instructed all regional hospitals to be prepared for an influx of injured.

‘Under these circumstances we must display caution. and we must work together but we must during this busy weekend show care and attention for security.

‘I will once again mention our highest military operation of security which allow the mobilisation of 10,000 military officers across the country.

‘This will cover all brigades of the police, who will be called from across the country, to the Nice region to assist their comrades

‘We will also pay much attention to tightening borders and I will now announce that the state of emergency which was meant to be lifted will be extended a further three months.

‘Following this we will show real force and military action in Iraq and Syria.

‘Our defence department will hold a meeting later this morning. Followng this meeting I will travel with the prime minsiter to Nice later today.

‘France has been hit by tragedy once again.

This monstrosity of using a lorry to deliberately kill people, many people, who only came out to celebrate their national day.

‘France is in tears, it is hurting but it is strong and she will be stronger – always stronger than the fanatics who wish to hurt us.’

He said the driver has been shot dead by police. They are currently hunting for a second attacker, according to reports.

French media reports said that as well as the dead, a further 15 people were critically injured and dozens more wounded.

Nice prosecutor Jean-Michel Prette said bodies were strewn about along the road.

The Gendarmerie Nationale tweeted: ‘Emergency operation in progress. Keep calm and avoid downtown area. Follow the official accounts to be informed.’

Bodies could be seen lying on the floor by the beach, as the police and other emergency services tried to deal with a mass panic.

British holidaymaker Esther Serwah, 59, was staying in a hotel a short walk from the scene.

She said she had been on her way to the Promenade des Anglais for dinner with her daughters when people started screaming at her.

Mrs Serwah, from Surrey, said: ‘I was just walking to the Promenade and then I saw everybody running and I just didn’t know what was going on.

‘People were screaming at me in French but I didn’t understand.

‘Some people were lying on the streets dead and people were running over the bodies.

‘Everybody was saying it’s a terrorist attack. It’s just horrible, horrible, horrible.

‘I’m in shock. I’m still shaking.’

European Council president Donald Tusk said Europe stands united with the French people in the battle against violence and hatred, while Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders both described the attack as ‘barbaric’.

US President Barack Obama has condemned what appears to be ‘a horrific terrorist attack’ and has directed his officials to provide any assistance required by the French government.

He said: ‘On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians.

‘We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack.

‘We know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.

‘On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world.’

His Secretary of State John Kerry added: ‘The horrendous attack in Nice is an attack against innocent people on a day that celebrates Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

‘On behalf of all Americans, and especially the great many with close ties to France, I offer our deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed and our hopes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured.

‘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.

‘Our embassy in Paris is making every effort to account for the welfare of U.S. citizens in Nice. Any U.S. citizens in Nice should contact friends and family directly to inform them of their well being.’

According to the White House: ‘The president has been apprised of the situation in Nice, France, and his national security team will update him, as appropriate.’

French President Francois Hollande is heading to the Interior Ministry’s crisis centre.

Police shot and killed the driver, who drove at high speed for over 100 yards along the famed Promenade des Anglais seafront before hitting the mass of spectators, regional sub-prefect Sebastien Humbert told France Info radio.

Humbert described it as a clear criminal attack, although the driver was not yet identified. Residents of the Mediterranean city close to the Italian border were advised to stay indoors. There was no sign of any other attack.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is being kept up to date on the ‘terrible incident’ in Nice, a Downing Street spokesman said Friday.

‘Our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible incident on what was a day of national celebration,’ the spokesman said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘We are deeply concerned about reports of an incident in Nice and are in touch with the local authorities to seek more information.

‘Our thoughts are with those affected and we stand by to help any British nationals.’

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy tweeted: ‘Deep emotion and infinite sadness at the Nice attack. Solidarity with the Nicois and the inhabitants of the Alpes-Maritimes.’

Fireworks were filling the night sky as the drama unfolded, as the crowds enjoyed July 14th, which is always a Bank Holiday in France.

‘It is absolute chaos,’ said an eye witness who works in the Nice judiciary. ‘There are reports of dozens of people killed, and many more injured. Bodies are lying everywhere.

‘Police are flooding the streets, including anti-terrorism officers. Nobody knows what to do, except to hide away. Gunmen are meant to be targeting hotels.’

The lorry was seen mounting the pavement and piling into anyone the driver could see, ramming over those who tried to run away.

Regional newspaper Nice Matin quoted its own reporter at the scene saying there were many injured people and blood on the street. It published a photograph of a damaged, long-distance delivery truck, which it said was ‘riddled with bullets’ and images of emergency services treating the injured.

Damien Allemand, the paper’s correspondent, was quoted as saying: ‘People are running. It’s panic. He rode up onto the Prom and piled into the crowd … There are people covered in blood. There must be many injured.’

He said the attack began just as the fireworks display ended as thousands of people were milling around the waterside.

He added: ‘A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people,’ he said. I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.’

The area around the Promenade is full of hotels and restaurants, which that were all packed at the height of the holiday season.

France is still under a State of Emergency following last year’s attacks on Paris, when almost 150 people were murdered by ISIS and Al-Qaeda operatives.

Both groups are well known for driving vehicles into innocent people, prompting fears that tonight’s incident could be linked to their activities.

Bastille Day, which celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris during the French Revolution of 1789, is the country’s biggest public holiday.

The truck rammed into the crowd on the Promenade des Anglais seaside walk in the centre of town, regional newspaper Nice Matin reported, citing its own reporter at the scene.

French television channel BFM TV said the local prefecture in Nice was treating the incident as an attack and was asking people to stay at home.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said: ‘The latest toll from this terrible attack has risen to 77 dead.’

He said: ‘This is the worst Nice drama of history. We are terrified and we want to present to all the families our sincere condolences.’

He said flags in the city would be flown at half-mast, while a concert by US superstar Rhianna and the popular jazz festival have both been cancelled.

Horrific images depicting men and women lying on the side of a road close to the Promenade des Anglais appeared on social media.

Several people have been injured as videos emerged showing people fleeing in panic. The crash itself was not shown however.

Fireworks were filling the night sky as the drama unfolded, as the crowds enjoyed July 14th, which is always a Bank Holiday in France.

France has been repeatedly targeted in recent months, but it is not yet known whether the incident is terror related.

The country is still under a State of Emergency following last year’s attacks on Paris, when almost 150 people were murdered by ISIS and Al-Qaeda operatives.

BASTILLE DAY: FRANCE’S ANNUAL DAY OF CELEBRATION

Bastille Day marks the July 14, 1789, storming of the Bastille prison by angry Paris crowds that helped spark the French Revolution.

The uprising was organised by ordinary Parisians intent on making clear they would no longer accept the absolute power of King Louis XVI’s as they faced high taxes and extortionate food costs.

There were not many prisoners in the Bastille at the time of the storming – only 7 people were freed – but the point was made.

That very night, 800 men destroyed the Bastille.

What happened that day began the French Revolution, in turn bringing about the modern French Republic.

The July 14 ‘Fête de la Fédération’ – which marked the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille – became a French national holiday in 1880 and has been observed ever since.

The day itself is celebrated passionately across France, with events held throughout the country on what is now a bank holiday.

Weeks later, the National Assembly abolished feudalism and adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as its constitution.

France became united under the agreement: ‘Men are born free and remain free and equal in rights.’

Months on both Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were executed.

Regional newspaper Nice Matin quoted its own reporter at the scene saying there were many injured people and blood on the street. It published a photograph of a damaged, long-distance delivery truck, which it said was ‘riddled with bullets’ and images of emergency services treating the injured.

Damien Allemand, the paper’s correspondent, was quoted as saying: ‘People are running. It’s panic. He rode up onto the Prom and piled into the crowd … There are people covered in blood. There must be many injured.’

Colin Srivastava told BBC News: ‘We were basically sitting just in front of the Old Town in Nice and saw several hundred people running towards us looking panic stricken.

‘We tried to ask a few of them what the hell was going on and finally got one that said, ‘You need to go, the police have told us to run’.

‘Just around about the base of the hill where the castle is in Nice the police came running along and said, ‘Run now’.

‘We had absolutely no idea what was going on, to be honest with you.

‘When we got down into the port in Nice we were told by a few people who’d obviously run faster than we had that there was the story of a lorry that had gone into the people, basically cannoned into the crowd, and there were also shots fired, which is something we didn’t hear about until just now on French news.’

niceMeanwhile, in Paris, a fire broke out near the Eiffel Tower, however authorities said this incident was not suspicious.

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