Amateur video has emerged showing the moment a truck plowed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice during an attack that claimed the lives of 84 people.
Last Thursday, a Tunisian-French man Mohamed Lahouaiyej Bouhlel drove a truck at high speed down the crowded Promenade des Anglais in the southern French resort town.
The video shows crowds gathered for a music concert on the promenade, panning right to glipmse the truck veering left to right as it drives towards the camera.
The Bastille Day truck attack in Nice – occurring when France was already under a heightened state of emergency – could further unnerve a country already traumatized by past extremist attacks and persuade some worried citizens simply to stay at home, some experts say.
Last week, French security forces failed to stop Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel from barging past police vehicles at the entrance to Nice’s famed Riviera beachfront on the country’s national day, zigzagging his truck to instantly transform a crowd of families and fun-seekers into utter tragedy.
“The fact that this attack occurred when security measures were supposedly in place makes this very different from previous attacks,” said Neil Greenberg, a professor of military mental health at King’s College London.
“That undermines the trust people have in the government to stop these events and it is extraordinarily hard to rebuild that trust once it’s lost.”
Greenberg said he expected to see a dip in the numbers of French people willing to venture into public places that might now be considered risky. He noted that past attacks on Paris – including the January 2015 shootings at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and the co-ordinated November strikes that killed 130 people – seemed more targeted, and thus avoidable, compared with the random group of Nice residents and tourists engulfed in chaos late Thursday night.
“Nice is known as the place where people go to the beach,” Greenberg said. “The attack there may have more of an impact than the Paris attacks because people may now be thinking, ‘where can I go to relax and be safe?'” He said that the pattern of repeated attacks could eventually prompt people to change their behaviour, if they fear the government is unable to protect them.
-With files from Maria Cheng and Helena Alves