The sun rose Friday morning on the Mediterranean city of Nice, and a city devastated by what appears to be the latest, horrifying terror attack on French soil. At least 84 have been reported dead after a truck careened through crowds on a seafront street, according to French media.
Hundreds, if not thousands, were out on the streets, celebrating Bastille Day, France’s answer to July 4th, with fireworks and a beachfront
It was here, just after the last firework had fizzled out, that an apparent single driver in a large white truck first opened fire into the crowd before plowing through horrified tourists and residents who had packed the famous Promenade des Anglais, one of the city’s main thoroughfares.
Amongst the dead, several children. At least 18 people remain in critical condition. Although the road was cordoned off, the driver managed to go more than a mile along the packed waterfront before being shot by police.
Among the tourists caught up in the attack, three Australians were injured, Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop said. Two Chinese citizens were also injured, the Chinese consulate in Marseille told CNN.
French President Francois Hollande, in a national address in the early hours of the morning, said that it was without doubt a terror attack.
He added that the choice of the day — Bastille Day, when France celebrates its post-French Revolution republic — was particularly poignant.
He said that the day is a “symbol of liberty,” and that “human rights are denied by fanatics and France is quite clearly their target.”
Hollande added that he will travel to Nice on Friday once he has chaired a meeting of the Security and Defense Council.
The death toll grew through the night.
30 days of terror attacks
Witness Tony Molina said he saw bodies of the dead lying in the street, covered in blue tarps and marked so emergency vehicles didn’t run over them.
Hollande recommended that an existing state of emergency, put in place in the wake of the Paris attacks in November 2015 and due to expire later this month, be extended for three more months.
“France is afflicted, but she is strong, and she will always be stronger than the fanatics who want to strike her today,” he said.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility.