A truck driver killed 84 people and injured dozens more after barreling into crowds watching Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France. Police officers eventually killed the driver, who has been identified as a Tunisian-born 31-year-old male. French President Francois Hollande said the violence had "terrorist character."
"It is clear that we must do everything we can to fight against the scourge of terrorism," he said in remarks after the attacks yesterday. "France was hit on the day of her national holiday, the 14th of July, symbol of liberty, because the rights of man are denied by fanatics and France is inevitably their target."
The horror occurred in the southern resort city, which had just hosted the EuroCup. The NY Times reports, "The attack unfolded on Thursday around 10:30 p.m., when a large truck turned left onto the Promenade des Anglais, a seaside boulevard filled with an enormous crowd of spectators. The truck initially killed two people and continued for 1.1 miles down the boulevard, brutally mowing down people left and right until police officers shot and killed the driver outside a hotel and casino."
One witness took this video of the truck:
Nader El Shafel, who filmed the truck, said, "I'm used to all of these actions in the Middle East but I was never this close to it. I said to my friends, 'Now we can't go to Europe to escape the Middle East. Now the Middle East can happen anywhere."
A tourist from Toronto told BBC News, "I heard lots of screams and everybody was running in different directions. I didn't know what was going on, it felt surreal and I didn't move but thought it must be some kind of practical joke. Then I saw the truck coming straight at me swerving all over the place. It was perhaps 50 yards away. After that there was no conscious thought, my body took over, time slowed down and I ran and thank God I got out of the way."
Among the victims were a Ukrainian, a Russian and a Swiss woman, as well as a father and son from Texas. Dallas residents Sean Copeland, 51, and his 11-year-old son, Brodie, 11, were on a family vacation; a family friend said, "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. They are so loved."
The truck was rented two days before the attack; according to BBC News, local media identified the driver as "Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel... Tunisian security sources said he was married with three children and came from the Tunisian town of Msaken. He visited Tunisia frequently, the last time eight months ago. He reportedly lived on the Route de Turin in Nice and had been in trouble with the police in the past for petty crime, but he was not on the watch list of radicalised young men. Residents of his apartment building said he was a loner who did not respond when they said hello."
Hollande, who had said earlier yesterday that France would lift a state of emergency put in place after the November attacks in Paris, announced the state of emergency would be extended for three months. He also said 10,000 soldiers would be mobilized and reservists would be called to patrol borders.
NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said there's no threat to NYC:
— Commissioner Bratton (@CommissBratton) July 15, 2016
Extra security is also outside the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue.