Truck mows down dozens in Bastille Day hor­ror CIARAN FA­HEY AND RAPHAEL SATTER

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE -

NICE, FRANCE — A truck loaded with weapons drove onto a side­walk, plow­ing through Bastille Day rev­ellers who’d gath­ered to watch fire­works in the French re­sort city of Nice late Thurs­day in what some of­fi­cials and eye­wit­nesses called a de­lib­er­ate attack. Au­thor­i­ties said at least 80 peo­ple were killed.

Nice pros­e­cu­tor Jean-Michel Pre­tre de­scribed a hor­rific scene, with bod­ies 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.” The rank­ing politi­cian of the Alpes-Mar­itimes depart­ment that in­cludes Nice said the truck plowed into the crowd over a dis­tance of two kilo­me­tres, killing 80 peo­ple and wound­ing 50. Many of those on the ground were

in shorts and other sum­mer cloth­ing.

Eric Ciotti said on BFM TV that po­lice killed the driver “ap­par­ently af­ter an ex­change of gun­fire.”

Sylvie Tof­fin, a press of­fi­cer with the lo­cal pre­fec­ture, said 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.”

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,” he 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. 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 palm tree-lined 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.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama con­demned what he said “ap­pears to be a hor­rific ter­ror­ist attack.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the fam­i­lies and other loved ones of those killed,” he said.

France’s am­bas­sador to the United States, Ger­ard Araud, char­ac­ter­ized the events as a “ter­ror­ist attack.”

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.”

Graphic footage showed a scene of hor­ror up and down the Prom­e­nade, with bro­ken bod­ies splayed out on the as­phalt, some of them piled near one an­other, oth­ers bleed­ing out onto the road­way or twisted into un­nat­u­ral shapes.

“Help my mother, please!” one per­son yells out amid a ca­coph­ony of scream­ing and cry­ing. A pink girl’s bi­cy­cle is briefly seen over­turned by the side of the road.

The ori­gin and au­then­tic­ity of the footage could not im­me­di­ately be ver­i­fied.

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.”

CHRIS­TIAN ALMINANA, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Po­lice re­spond af­ter a truck plowed through a crowd that had gath­ered to watch the fire­works in the city of Nice, France.

CIARAN FA­HEY, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Po­lice and sol­diers seal off the area of an attack in Nice, south­ern France. At least 77 peo­ple were killed in the sus­pected ter­ror­ist attack.

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