A truck has crashed into crowds of spectators during Bastille Day festivities in the French city of Nice, killing at least 80 people in an apparent terrorist attack. The attacker was shot dead by police but there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The attack happened at about 10:30 p.m. local time on Thursday when a cargo truck deliberately plowed into large crowds at the Promenade des Anglais, where a fireworks show to mark France’s National Day was taking place in front of thousands of people.
Footage from witnesses showed police officers firing multiple shots at the truck before it plowed into the crowds. The driver, believed to have been alone in the vehicle, was later shot dead after an exchange of gunfire with police.
Scores of dead and injured were scattered across hundreds of meters (yards) of road as police, ambulances and anti-terror units rushed to the scene. The death toll stood at 80 by early Friday morning, but dozens more were injured, including 18 who remained in a critical condition.
The attack prompted thousands of people in the area to flee or seek shelter in nearby homes and businesses. Mayor Christian Estrosi, who called it the deadliest tragedy in the history of Nice, urged residents to remain calm and stay at home until further notice.
“France has been hit by tragedy once again,” French President François Hollande said in an address to the nation after a crisis meeting at the interior ministry. “France is in tears. It is hurting but it is strong, and she will be strong, always stronger than the fanatics who wish to hurt us.”
Hollande said the national state of emergency, which was due to expire later this month, will be extended by at least three months. He said an investigation was still underway to determine whether the attacker – said to be a French national of Tunisian origin – acted alone.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, though Islamic State-affiliated accounts on social media praised the attack. Thursday’s attack is the deadliest since November, when 130 people were killed in a series of ISIS attacks in Paris.
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