14th July, Bastille Day in France, on that national holiday when France was celebrating freedom and peace at least 84 people died and many were injured after a lorry crashed through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city Nice on Thursday night.
The people gathered in the street to watch fireworks when a lorry drove for 2km on the Promenade des Anglais through the crowd at about 11pm local time. Police found the lorry was filled with grenades and guns. The driver first shot a gun into the crowd before driving two kilometers along the main street of Nice. After the attack police shot and killed the driver.
Witnesses uttered the speeding lorry zigzagged and wanted to hit more people. Wassim Bouhlel, a Nice resident said, “It zigzagged – you had no idea where it was going. My wife… a metre away… she was dead. The lorry ripped through everything… poles, trees. We have never seen anything like it. Some people were hanging on the door and tried to stop it.”
The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi stated to local media that almost 10 children have been killed.
French President Francois Hollande called it a terror attack. “We cannot deny that it was a terror attack.” He said that the day is a “symbol of liberty,” and “human rights are denied by fanatics and France is quite clearly their target.” He addressed the nation was “badly hit” and “we need to do everything we can to fight against such attacks. All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism.”
According to BFMTV the Anti-terror prosecutor is investigating the case. Till now no groups has claimed the responsibility. Officials suspected this was a terror attack.
Police found his identity papers in the truck which said the killer was a 31 year old French Tunisian. He lived in Nice and for some minor crime he had been in troubled with the police. He was not suspected by the police and was not on police’s watch list of radicalized men. According to a newspaper Nice-Matin his name was Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.
US President Barrack Obama said in a statement, “We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack.”
Many world leaders expressed their grief in tweeter:
Brazilian President Michel Temer tweeted, “It is regrettable that on the day [that] eternalized fraternity as the motto of the French people, an attack destroyed the lives of so many citizens.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted, “Canadians are shocked by tonight’s attack in Nice. Our sympathy is with the victims, and our solidarity with the French people.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “India shares the pain (and) stands firmly with our French sisters (and) brothers in this hour of immense sadness.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced three days national mourning starting from Saturday. He said, “We will not give in to terrorist threats. We are in a new era. France has been struck once again in her flesh. They wanted to harm the very idea of national unity.”
France is on top security alert as 7 multiple terrorist attacks hit within the past 18 months which left more than 230 dead and many injured. After the November, 2015 Paris massacre President Francois Hollande announced state emergency which was due to end on 26th July and it gave extra rights to the security to carry out investigations and arrest suspects. After Thursday’s attack Hollande declared the state emergency will be extended for another three months.