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Scores dead as truck drives into crowd in France

The attack has left dozens dead in France after a lorry struck a crowd [AFP]

Date of publication: 15 July, 2016

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French authorities have confirmed at least 84 people have been killed after a lorry drove into a crowd along a 2 km stretch of road in Nice on Bastille Day.
At least 84 people have been killed and scores injured in the French city of Nice as a lorry drove into crowds of people for around 2 km [1 mile] on the city's main boulevard. 

The driver of the 19-tonne truck reportedly shot at survivors with a handgun, before being gunned down by security. 

Crowds had gathered to watch a firework display for national Bastille Day celebrations in Nice. They were leaving the event at around 11pm when the white lorry drove into the crowds of killing indiscriminately.

French authorities are describing the incident as "an attack" and anti-terrorist experts have taken over the investigation.


'Deliberate attack'

A spokesman for France's interior ministry said there were at least 84 people killed in the tragedy that unfolded on Boulevard des Anglais.

People attempted to flee the oncoming lorry - which drove at high speed into crowds - with one man spotted carrying his child from the scene, while videos showed old and young fleeing.

Another chilling image - widely shared on social media - showed a small gold body bag with a toy doll next to the infant's remains.

Bodies were reportedly strewn across the seafront road, with images too graphic to share.

From the start it was obvious that the death toll would be high. It was only later that the true carnage became clear.

The killer was identified by French media as a 31-year-old Tunisian, due to papers in the vehicle, but authorities are yet to confirm the reports.

He was said to have drove for one mile along the packed walkway before being shot dead by security.

Images showed the bullet ridden windscreen of the white lorry at the scene.

Authorities said the lorry was packed with guns and grenades but sources told AFP the rifles were fake and grenades deactivated.

Only the handgun was operational, which the killer used to fire of several rounds before being shot dead.

The death toll is likely to rise as medics bring the dead and injured into hospital on one of the busiest parts of the city during France's most celebrated national holiday.

Panic

Earlier, Sylvie Toffin - a press officer with the local prefecture - said the truck "hit several people on a long trip" down the pavement near Nice's Palais de la Méditerranee, a building which fronts the beach.

"There was carnage on the road," Wassim Bouhlel, a Nice native said. "Bodies everywhere."

Bouhlel said he witnessed the man emerge from the lorry with a gun and start shooting.

The Islamic State group - the chief suspect - have yet to claim responsibility for the attack.

But France is now on high alert, despite fears that more attacks would occur that night not materialising.

"The driver of a van appears to have killed dozens. Stay in your homes for now. More info to follow," Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi wrote on Twitter, shortly after the attack.

Francois Hollande addressed the nation hours later, saying he would extend France's state of emergency for three more months.

He also called up reserves to bolster security after the Nice attacks, the third major terror attack in the past year-and-a-half.

Hollande also indicated that the Islamic State group were behind the attack, saying the air force would step up air strikes on the militants in Syria and Iraq.


Agencies contributed to this story.


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