Dozens believed dead after truck slams into crowd in Nice
NICE, FRANCE >> A truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers who'd gathered to watch fireworks in the French resort city of Nice late Thursday in what some officials and eyewitnesses described as a deliberate attack. The president of the Nice region said at least 60 people were killed.
Sylvie Toffin, a press officer with the local prefecture, said that the truck ran over people on a "long trip" down the sidewalk near Nice's Palais de la Mediterranee, a building that fronts the beach. She called the incident "an attack." Nice regional president Eric Ciotti said on France Info radio that "It's a scene of horror" and gave a figure of 60 dead. He said he was speaking from the scene.
Nice prosecutor Jean-Michel Prette said bodies were strewn about along the roadway. However, he stopped short of using the word attack, while acknowledging that "it has many ingredients of an attack that allow us to think that."
Wassim Bouhlel, a Nice native who spoke to the AP nearby, said that he saw a truck drive into the crowd.
"There was carnage on the road," Bouhlel said. "Bodies everywhere."
The president of the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur regional council, which includes Nice, said the truck was loaded with arms and grenades and the driver was killed by police. Christian Estrosi told BFM TV that "the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him."
Bouhlel said he witnessed the man emerge with a gun and start shooting
Images being broadcast across French media showed revelers running for their lives down Nice's Promenade des Anglais, the famous seaside boulevard named for the English aristocrats who proposed its construction in the 19th century.
Video footage showed men and women — one or two pushing strollers — racing to get away from the scenes. And, in what appeared to be evidence of a gun battle, photos showed a truck with at least half a dozen bullet holes punched through its windshield.
It was not immediately clear who would have been behind an attack, but France has recently seen a spate of dramatic assaults from by jihadist groups, including the Islamic State group which straddles Iraq and Syria.
Writing online, Nice Matin journalist Damien Allemand who was at the waterside said the fireworks display had finished and the crowd had got up to leave when they heard a noise and cries.
"A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people," he said.
"I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget."
Kayla Repan, of Boca Raton, Florida, was among the hundreds gathered on the promenade to watch fireworks.
"The whole city was running. I got extremely frightened and ran away from the promenade," she said. "It was chaos. We hid in a restaurant but now we moved to a separate hotel."
Satter reported from Paris.
In this video grab taken Thursday July 14, 2016, ambulances and Police cars are seen after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice. officials and eyewitnesses described as a deliberate attack. There appeared to be many casualties. (BFMTV via AP)
In this video grab taken Thursday July 14, 2016, ambulances and Police cars are seen after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice. Officials and eyewitnesses described as a deliberate attack. There appeared to be many casualties. (BFMTV via AP)
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