Death toll rises to 84 in France truck attack


15 Jul 2016

Death toll rises to 84 in France truck attack

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Police officers and rescued workers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. The mayor of the French city of Nice said dozens of people were likely killed after a van rammed into a crowd marking Bastille Day in the French Riviera resort today and urged residents to stay indoors. Photo: AFP

A gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice, killing at least 84 people in what President Francois Hollande on Friday called a “terrorist” attack.

Police shot the driver dead after he drove the truck two kilometres (1.3 miles) through a crowd that had been enjoying a fireworks display on France’s July 14 national holiday.
The palm-lined Promenade des Anglais was left strewn with bodies as hundreds fled in terror.

Authorities said they found identity papers belonging to a 31-year-old French-Tunisian citizen in the 19-tonne truck, and that the driver had fired a gun several times before police shot him dead.

The man was known to police, authorities said.

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Hollande said in a televised national address that the attack was of an “undeniable terrorist nature” and he confirmed that several children were among the dead.

“France was struck on its national day … the symbol of freedom,” said Hollande.
Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said 84 people were killed and scores injured, including 18 in “critical condition”.

Bastille Day is a celebration of everything France holds dear — its secular republic and the values of “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity).

Earlier Thursday, onlookers had enjoyed a day of military pomp and ceremony in Paris — where armed forces, tanks and fighter jets swooped down the Champs Elysees avenue — and spectacular firework displays.

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– ‘Holding cold hands’ –
In a video viewed over 4,500 times on Facebook, a trembling Tarubi Wahid Mosta recounted the horror on the promenade, where he took photos of an abandoned doll and pushchair and came home with a victim’s Yorkshire terrier.

“I almost stepped on a corpse, it was horrible. It looked like a battlefield,” he said.

In a series of posts, he described the sense of helplessness faced with the carnage.

“All these bodies and their families … they spent hours on the ground holding the cold hands of bodies dismembered by the truck. You can’t even speak to them or comfort them.”

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Forensic police were still swarming the promenade as the sun rose over the picturesque bay, which has drawn sun-seekers and the jet-set since the 19th century.

The truck was still in the position where it had ground to a halt, its front badly damaged and riddled with bullet holes and its tyres burst.

A police source said the vehicle had been rented in the region “a few days ago”.
Robert Holloway, an AFP reporter who witnessed the white truck driving at speed into the crowd, described scenes of “absolute chaos”.

“We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around. I had to protect my face from flying debris,” he said.

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While officials made an urgent call for blood donors, dozens took to Twitter with desperate pleas from for news of loved ones.

Pictures of a young girl with braces or a teenager pulling a funny face were among those posted.

– ‘Horrific terrorist attack’ –
World leaders rushed to condemn the carnage, with US President Barack Obama blasting “what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack”.

The attack was the third major strike against France in less than 18 months and prosecutors said anti-terrorist investigators were handling the probe.

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It comes eight months after Islamic State attacks on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium in Paris left 130 people dead.

Hollande announced he would extend France’s state of emergency for three months in the wake of this latest attack and “step up” the government’s action against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq.

“We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil,” he said.
He also called up army reservists to bolster security services that are stretched to the limit.

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News Source: PunchNigeria, 9jaTales

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