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Published on : Friday, July 15, 2016
Tourists and French nationals celebrating the Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city of Nice was attacked by a “terrorist” gunman, who rammed his 19 tonne truck into the crowd, killing 84 people, including several children and injuring scores more at 11 pm local time.
The driver of the truck was shot dead by police. They are trying to determine if he had accomplices. Unconfirmed reports in the local media said an ID card belonging to a 31-year-old resident of Nice who had dual French-Tunisian nationality had been found in the truck.
Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on 14 July each year. The French National Day commemorates the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, an important event in Paris in the French Revolution, which had begun two days earlier, as well as the Fete de la Federation which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790. Celebrations are held throughout France. The oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe is held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs Elysees in Paris in front of the President of the Republic along with other French officials and foreign guests.
The crash is being treated as a terrorist attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The state of emergency which had begun in France following the attack by the Islamic State militant group in Paris which had killed 130 people in Paris, has been extended for the next three months. Residents and tourists are advised to stay indoors as the emergency services work at the scene.
President Francois Hollande called the carnage, an attack on liberty by fanatics who despised human rights.
Authorities said the man had been firing on the crowd and police as he drove, and that the truck was loaded with weapons and grenades. Witnesses said the driver was “zigzagging” so he could hit as many people as possible. It was reported that he drove into the crowd for 2km at a speed of about 50km/h.
Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister declared that they are in a state of war with the terrorists.
The UN Security Council has “condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric terrorist and cowardly attack”. In a statement, the 15 members of the Council offered their “deep sympathy and condolences” to the families of the victims and to the French government.
World leaders including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have condemned the attack. Donald Trump has postponed the announcement of his running mate.
Nice hospitals have launched an appeal for blood donations in the wake of the attack.
Heart-breaking online appeals for missing persons in Nice have been posted online by their desperate families and friends.
Uber has wished the people of Nice well and offered to refund any journeys in the area.