Terrorist drives through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 84 including children
NICE, (France) — At least 80 people, including many children, have been killed and another 100 wounded after an attacker drove a lorry at high speed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice.
Many children were among the death toll in the Riviera city following a “cowardly and barbaric” atrocity.
Bastille Day celebrations were transformed into scenes of chaos and carnage after the large white truck careered down the packed promenade.
As hundreds remained in hospital, including 18 in intensive care, anti-terrorist judges opened an investigation into ‘mass murder’.
The attacker, identified by a police as a 31-year-old Tunisian-born Frenchman, also opened fire before police shot him dead. He had been known to the police for common crimes but not to the intelligence services, the source said.
The attack took place during the fireworks, according to French media, at about 11 pm local time.
Witnesses described a horrific scene, with bodies strewn along the roadway.
“People went down like ninepins,” Jacques, who runs Le Queenie restaurant on the seafront, told the France Info radio station.
“It’s a scene of horror,” Eric Ciotti, a local member of parliament, told the station, saying the truck “mowed down several hundred people”.
“France has been struck once again in her flesh, on the 14th of July, on the day of our national celebration,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Friday. The attacker wanted to “harm the very idea of national unity,” he said, adding solemnly that France is having to learn to live with regular attacks.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tweeted: “The city of Nice has been hit by terrorism on the day of our national holiday. Immense pain, the country is in mourning. The French will face it.”
La ville de Nice frappée par le terrorisme le jour de notre Fête nationale. Immense douleur, le pays est en deuil. Les Français feront face.
— Manuel Valls (@manuelvalls) July 15, 2016
The United Nations condemned what it termed a “barbaric and cowardly” terror attack in Nice.
France’s Muslim Faith Council (CFCM) was among those organisations who condemned last night’s attack “with great vigour”.
A CFCM statement read: “France has just been hit again by an attack of extreme gravity”, one that was “heinous and abject and designed to hurt our country on the day of the national holiday that celebrates values of liberty, equality and fraternity.”
Francois Hollande to extend state of emergency
In a pre-dawn address to the nation, French President Francois Hollande said “France is filled with sadness by this new tragedy”. Hollande said he had no doubt the attack was an act of “terrorism”, calling it an assault on liberty by fanatics who despised human rights.
Hollande said a state of emergency implemented after the November terror attacks in Paris and due to end on July 26 will be extended by another three months. He said the country’s borders were being tightened, as he vowed that France would show “real force and military action in Syria and Iraq”.
What is Bastille Day?
Bastille Day marks the storming of the Bastille prison on July 14, 1789, by angry Parisian crowds, which signalled the start of the French Revolution and creation of the modern French Republic. The July 14 “Fête de la Fédération” is a French national holiday when the main event, a military parade, is held in Paris attended by dignitaries. Elsewhere in France, cities and towns celebrate teh day hosting their own fireworks displays.