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, 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 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 people are then said to have dived into the sea as panic ensued and revellers 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.
— ITV News (@itvnews) July 15, 2016
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.
CNN is reporting the occupant of the truck exchanged gunfire with police. It is not known if anyone else was shot; British media are reporting that there may be two terrorists, however many other accounts quote French officials as saying there was one gunman.
UK Express cited French TV channel iTele, saying that the gunman who emerged from the truck had been “holed up in a nice restaurant downtown” but has been “neutralized” (killed) by police. For several hours, authorities were trying to determine if the identity card matched the terrorist who was killed, according to SBS media and other media accounts.
— ❌Turkey | Azerbaijan (@StopTurkishGov) July 15, 2016