July 15, 2016 5:31 am
Updated: July 15, 2016 11:08 pm

Nice, France attack kills at least 84, injures 202: ‘Carnage on the road. Bodies everywhere’

WATCH: Full video coverage of truck attack in Nice, France WARNING: IMAGES ARE DISTURBING, DISCRETION ADVISED

A A

WARNING: This post contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing, discretion advised.

LATEST UPDATES:

  •  For live updates of the Nice truck click here
  • 2 Americans among 84 people killed
  • Police identified the attacker as a 31-year-old Nice resident
  • No Canadians reported among the casualties
  • 10 children are among the dead
  • France declares 3 days of mourning
  • No group has claimed responsibility for the attack
  • French president said 50 people were still “between life and death”

NICE, France -A Paris prosecutor said 202 people wounded in Nice truck attack, while 25 remain on life support and another 52  are in critical condition as a result of Thursday’s horrifying rampage.

A Tunisian living in France drove a large truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day along Nice’s beachfront, killing at least 84 people, many of them children, according to police and hospital officials. The slaughter ended only after police killed the armed attacker in a hail of bullets.

Story continues below

French leaders on Friday extended the country’s 9-month-old state of emergency and vowed to deploy thousands of police reservists on the streets after Thursday night’s massacre of pedestrians leaving a fireworks display for France’s independence day.

READ MORE: ‘We were just there’: Edmonton women in Nice, France hours before truck attack

Video shot by bystanders shows the truck coming under police gunfire as it drives through an intersection into the pedestrian promenade. Crowds flee in panic, taking shelter in shops, hotels or leaping off the elevated pavement onto the beach below. Police finally surround the stationary truck and fatally shoot its driver.

Police identified the attacker as Mohamed Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Nice resident, and said he had drawn a gun on them. The truck’s front windshield was riddled with bullets.

Lawrence Cannon, the Canadian ambassador to France, wrote on Twitter Friday morning that, to date, no Canadians have been reported among the casualties.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Thursday night saying he was “heartbroken to learn of the many dozens of innocent victims who were killed or injured as a result of today’s terrorist attack that targeted Bastille Day celebrations.”

“Canada and France are the closest of friends, and we stand by the French people as they face this terrible ordeal. We have offered all possible assistance to the French Government,” Trudeau said. “Senseless acts like this one are not isolated events, and we will continue to work with our Allies and partners to fight terrorism in all of its forms. We will bring those who are responsible to justice, whether they be the perpetrators, or those involved in funding or organizing such attacks.”

A forensic expert examines dead bodies covered with a blue sheet on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera city of Nice on July 15, 2016 (BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

(BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Video footage showed the truck driving slowly down the southern French city’s famous, palm tree-lined Promenade des Anglais boulevard, which had been sealed off and turned into a pedestrian-only party zone.

German tourist Richard Gutjahr filmed the moment when an unidentified motorcyclist rode alongside the truck and grabbed hold of the driver’s door as two other police officers on foot nearby fired a single shot each at the driver’s windscreen. But the truck accelerated through an intersection into screaming crowds, where Gutjahr could hear the final confrontation involving 15 to 20 seconds of gunfire.

“Police were everywhere in town for the day. They clearly saw he was a danger, because that truck should never have been on the road,” said Gutjahr, who took cover as police started shooting because he feared the truck might contain a bomb.

French police and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 80 people in Nice, France.

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

“France was struck on the day of its national holiday, July 14, the symbol of liberty,” French President Francois Hollande said as he denounced “this monstrosity.”

Hollande said it was not clear whether the driver had accomplices. The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation for “murder and attempted murder in an organized group linked to a terrorist enterprise.”

READ MORE: Witnesses describe deadly attack in Nice: ‘Bodies flying like bowling pins’

No group has claimed responsibility for the carnage, but French officials called it an undeniable act of terror. The assault on revelers rocked a nation still dealing with the aftermath of two attacks in Paris last year that killed 147 people and were claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.

WATCH: The attack in Nice has left the world stunned, again. Here are the thoughts and feelings of those directly affected by the tragedy. 

“Terrorism is a threat that weighs heavily upon France and will continue to weigh for a long time,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after Hollande called an emergency government meeting Friday. “We are facing a war that terrorism has brought to us. The goal of terrorists is to instil fear and panic. And France is a great country, and a great democracy, that will not allow itself to be destabilized.”

Hollande and Valls rushed to Nice, 690 kilometres (490 miles) south of Paris, to offer their condolences after the emergency meeting. They visited wounded people in two hospitals, including a facility where officials said they had treated about 50 children and teenagers for a wide range of injuries.

Policemen walk the site where a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display on the Promenade des Anglais seafront in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016.

Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

Hollande told reporters Friday that about 50 people were still “between life and death” after the attack.

Politicians said the truck knocked over and crushed pedestrians over a distance of two kilometres (1 1/4 miles). Broadcast footage showed a scene of horror along Nice’s famous promenade, with broken bodies splayed on the asphalt, some piled near one another, others bleeding onto the roadway or twisted into unnatural shapes.

VIDEO: ‘We were just there’: Edmonton women in Nice, France hours before truck attack

The regional president, Christian Estrosi, told BFM TV that “the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him.” He said more than 10 children were among the dead, which also included two Americans, Moroccans and Armenians and one person each from Russia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Some people tried to escape into the water when they saw the careening truck, according to Eric Ciotti, a lawmaker who represents Nice.

“A person jumped onto the truck to try to stop it,” Ciotti told Europe 1 radio. “It’s at that moment that the police were able to neutralize this terrorist. I won’t forget the look of this policewoman who intercepted the killer.”

People cross the street with their hands on their heads as a French soldier secures the area after a truck drove into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day killing at least 80 people along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France.

REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet

Flags were lowered to half-staff in Nice, Paris, Brussels and many capitals across Europe. Hollande announced a three-month extension to the state of emergency imposed after the Nov. 13 attacks on Paris that killed 130 victims and the government declared three days of national mourning to begin Saturday.

Estrosi said some of the city’s 1,200 security cameras had pinpointed the moment the attacker boarded the truck, far from the seaside “in the hills of Nice” and could follow his path to the promenade. Estrosi called for the investigation to focus on any accomplices.

“Attacks aren’t prepared alone. Attacks are prepared with accomplices,” Estrosi said. “There is a chain of complicity. I expect it to be unveiled, discovered and kept up to date.”

READ MORE: World reacts to Nice attack: ‘Canadians are shocked by tonight’s attack’

France has lived with soldiers in the streets since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, and much of the country experienced increased security during the monthlong European football championship that concluded July 10.

Damien Allemand, a journalist for the Nice-Matin newspaper 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 wrote in an online account. “I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.”

On video, one person could be heard yelling, “Help my mother, please!” A pink girl’s bicycle was overturned by the side of the road.

VIDEO: People running through the streets in Nice, France after apparent attack

Hollande said, despite the attack, France would bolster its presence in Iraq and Syria, where he said earlier that military advisers would be on the ground to help Iraqis take back the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul.

A picture taken through the gate shows French Republican guards placing the French flag at half-staff at the Elysee presidential Palace, in Paris, on July 15, 2016 as French government announced a three days of national mourning after the attack in Nice.

Christophe Petit Tesson/AFP/Getty Images

In Washington, the U.S. State Department confirmed that two Americans were among the dead and President Barack Obama condemned what “appears to be a horrific terrorist attack.”

READ MORE: Nice attack: how to find information on loved ones

Sean Copeland, 51, and his son Brodie, 11, of Lakeway, Texas, were on a European summer vacation that began with the running of the bulls in Spain.

“We are heartbroken and in shock over the loss of Brodie Copeland, an amazing son and brother who lit up our lives, and Sean Copeland, a wonderful husband and father,” the Copeland family said in a statement. “They are so loved.”

VIDEO: French President Francois Hollande says France will step up efforts to hit terrorists

European Council President Donald Tusk said it was a “tragic paradox” that the victims of the attack in Nice were celebrating “liberty, equality and fraternity”- France’s motto – on the country’s national day.

France, one of the world’s top tourist destinations, has long known it is a top target for the Islamic State group. In September 2014, then-IS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani referred to “the filthy French,” telling Muslims within the country to attack them in any way they could, including “crush them with your car.”

France is also Islamic State’s biggest source for European recruits. Nice itself was home to a prolific producer of French-language jihadist recruitment videos, Omar Omsen, who is now fighting in Syria.

LIVE UPDATES: Attack in Nice, France kills at least 84

© 2016 The Canadian Press

Report an error

Comments

Comments closed.

Due to the sensitive and/or legal subject matter of some of the content on globalnews.ca, we reserve the ability to disable comments from time to time.

Please see our Commenting Policy for more.