Tag Archives: 80 victims now confirmed dead in Nice Attack in France

80 victims now confirmed dead in Nice Attack in France

At Least 80 Dead, Scores Injured After Attack in French City of Nice

Assailant shot dead after ramming a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, exiting the vehicle and firing on passerby in the area.


French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais.Eric Gaillard, Reuters

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REUTERS – An attacker killed at least 80 people and injured scores when he drove a truck at high speed into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city of Nice late on Thursday, a local politician said.

Counter-terrorist investigators were leading the probe, into the attack, local media said, and a local government official said weapons and grenades were found inside the truck.

Police shot and killed the driver, who drove the 25-tonne, unmarked, truck for well over 100 metres (yards) along the famed Promenade des Anglais seafront, slamming into a mass of spectators late in the evening, regional government official Sebastien Humbert told France Info radio.

The man had opened fire on the crowd, local government chief Christian Estrosi told local media, also citing the discovery of weapons and grenades after the driver was killed.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 80 people died and 18 were in a critical condition. Many more were also wounded in the attack along the famed seafront Promenade des Anglais as the fireworks ended just after 10:30 P.M. local time.

“It’s a scene of horror,” a local member of parliament, Eric Ciotti, told France Info. He said 75 people were dead after the truck sped along the pavement fronting the Mediterranean, before being stopped by police after “mowing down several hundred people.”

“People went down like ninepins,” Jacques, a restaurant owner on the seafront Promenade des Anglais, told France Info.

Local newspaper Nice-Matin posted photographs of the truck, its windshield starred by a score of bullets and its radiator grille destroyed. Since Islamic State attacks last year, major public events in France have been guarded by troops and armed police, but it appeared to have taken some minutes to halt the progress of the deadly truck in Nice.

Nice-Matin quoted officials as saying 42 people were in critical condition. Many others were less seriously hurt.

Humbert said the driver was not yet identified. Residents of the city, located 30 km (20 miles) from the Italian border, were advised to stay indoors. There was no sign of any other attack.

Almost exactly eight months ago Islamic State militants killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13, the bloodiest in a number of attacks in France and Belgium in the past two years. On Sunday, France had breathed a sigh of relief as the month-long Euro 2016 soccer tournament ended without a feared attack.

Four months ago, Belgian Islamists linked to the Paris attackers killed 32 people in Brussels.

Police denied rumors on social media of a subsequent hostage-taking. Vehicle attacks have been used by isolated members of militant groups in recent years, notably in Israel, as well as in Europe, though never to such devastating effect.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement: “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.”

Hiding in terror

One woman told France Info that she and others had fled in terror: “The lorry came zig-zagging along the street. We ran into a hotel and hid in the toilets with lots of people.”

Regional government chief Estrosi has warned in the past of the risk of Islamist attacks in the region, following the attacks in Paris and Brussels over the past 18 months.

Nice, with a population of some 350,000 and a history as a flamboyant resort but also a gritty metropolis, has seen some of its Muslim residents travel to Syria to fight, a path taken by previous Islamic State attackers in Europe.

“Neither the place nor the date are coincidental,” former French intelligence agent and security consultant Claude Moniquet told France-Info, noting the jihadist presence in Nice and the fact that July 14 marks France’s 1789 revolution.

“Tragic paradox that the subject of Nice attack was the people celebrating liberty, equality and fraternity,” European Council President Donald Tusk said on Twitter.

French President Francois Hollande, was in the south of France at the time of the attack but raced back to Paris to the national crisis center. Hours earlier, Hollande had said that a state of emergency put in place after the Paris attacks in November would not be extended when it expires on July 26.

“We can’t extend the state of emergency indefinitely, it would make no sense. That would mean we’re no longer a republic with the rule of law applied in all circumstances,” Hollande told journalists in a traditional Bastille Day interview.

His interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, was expected in Nice overnight, a source in the ministry said. Officials said Hollande would chair a meeting of security chiefs at 9 A.M. (0700 GMT).

and 50 injured in the French Riviera city of Nice late on Thursday when a truck ploughed into a crowd watching fireworks on France’s Bastille Day national holiday, a police source told I-Tele TV channel.

The driver drove at high speed for over 100 meters (yards) along the famed Promenade des Anglais seafront before hitting the mass of spectators, then exited the vehicle and started shooting into the crowd. According to sub-prefect Sebastien Humber, who spoke to France Infos radio, the assailant was shot dead.

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.

Almost exactly eight months ago Islamic State militants killed 130 people in Paris. On Sunday, France had breathed a sigh of relief as the month-long Euro 2016 soccer tournament ended without a feared attack.

“Dear Nicois,” local mayor Christian Estrosi tweeted, “The driver of a truck appears to have killed dozens of people. Stay at home for the time being. More news to follow.”

Estrosi said the truck was driven by someone who appeared to have “completely premeditated behavior.” He added that “the truck was loaded with arms, loaded with grenades.”

U.S. President Barack Obama was briefed, “and his national security team will update him, as appropriate,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, in a statement.

Obama condemned “what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack,” and directed his team to offer any assistance France may need in investigating the attack.

Regional newspaper Nice Matin quoted its 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.”

Social media carried images of people lying apparently lifeless in pools of blood.

U.S. government agencies have received constant reports of Islamic State threats to attack France and those threats are regarded as current, a U.S. security official said. However, two U.S. officials said they had no information at this point about whether militants were involved in the Nice incident.

CNN said it has spoken to a witness, identified as an American pilot, who saw the truck ramming the crowd. The witness said the driver mowed people down, accelerating as he hit them. The witness said there was only one person in the truck.

Local mayor Estrosi has warned in the past of the risk of Islamist attacks in the region, following Islamic State bloodshed in Paris and Brussels over the past 18 months.

French President Francois Hollande, who was in the south of France at the time, had hours earlier said a state of emergency put in place after the Paris attacks in November would not be extended when it was due to expire on July 26.

“We can’t extend the state of emergency indefinitely, it would make no sense. That would mean we’re no longer a republic with the rule of law applied in all circumstances,” Hollande told journalists in a traditional Bastille Day interview.

Source – http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1.731101