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An out-of-place truck, then screams as Nice attack unfolded

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    The truck that slammed into revelers late Thursday, was seen near the site of an attack in the French resort city of Nice, southern France today. France was stunned again after a large white truck mowed through a crowd of revelers gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the Riviera city of Nice.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Women reacted near the scene of an attack where a truck mowed through revelers in Nice, southern France, today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A woman weeped during an event to commemorate the victims of an attack in Nice near the French embassy in Berlin, Germany, today.

  • French President Francois Hollande made a televised address in Paris early today after a truck drove onto a sidewalk for more than a mile, plowing through Bastille Day revelers who’d gathered to watch fireworks in the French resort city of Nice on Thursday. (French Pool via AP)

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    People stand next to covered bodies in the early hours of Friday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France. France has been stunned again as a large white truck killed many people after it mowed through a crowd of revelers gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display late Thursday evening, in the Riviera city of Nice.

  • SASHA GOLDSMITH VIA AP

    Authorities investigate a truck after it plowed through Bastille Day revelers in the French resort city of Nice, France on Thursday. France was ravaged by its third attack in two years when a large white truck mowed through revelers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, killing at dozens of people as it bore down on the crowd for more than a mile along the Riviera city’s famed seaside promenade.

NICE, France » Almost instantly, those in its murderous path could tell that the speeding white truck was all wrong so late at night on Nice’s beachfront boulevard whose bright lights glittered along the bay like a string of stars.

The Promenade des Anglais was meant to be closed to traffic, cordoned off with metal barriers and plastic tape, so families and tourists could stroll worry-free beside the azure waters of the Mediterranean and marvel at the Bastille Day fireworks.

The truck sped straight for them, slowing at times, accelerating at others, leaving death, screams and horrific injuries in its wake.

“I realized right away it was a terrorist attack when I saw the truck crushing people,” said Antonio Arribas, who was with his cousin, Diego.

The rented 19-ton (21 U.S.-ton) truck zigzagged for 1¼ miles through holiday crowds like a snow plow, leaving a gruesome trail of crushed and mangled bodies. The 84 dead included French and foreigners, children and adults.

Just when Egyptian tourist Nader El Shafei looked like he might fall next under its large wheels, the truck stopped. The attacker, a 31-year-old Tunisian who lived in Nice and drove for living, was killed by police gunfire.

Moments earlier, as the fireworks show was ending, El Shafei said he’d looked at the large crowds and thought to himself: “If someone crazy want(s) to do something, this is the right place and the right time, among all those innocent people.”

He had traveled to Nice expecting to see “paradise.”

“But I saw something else,” he said.

He caught the scene on video — the crackle of gunshots, officers warily approaching the cab with its windshield pockmarked with holes. El Shafei said he saw the driver, later identified by authorities as Mohamed Bouhlel, fire back through a window.

France’s third attack with mass casualties in 18 months was even more indiscriminate than the others. The dead in Nice included at least 10 children and adolescents. They had come to marvel at the fireworks, “to feel joy, to share in happiness and be dazzled,” said President Francois Hollande.

“And they were struck, struck to death, to satisfy the cruelty of an individual and perhaps of a group,” he said after visiting a hospital that treated victims.

French officials called it an undeniable act of terror, but no group claimed responsibility and it was unclear if the driver had any ties to extremists.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the refrigerated truck was rented in the outskirts of Nice on July 11. It was due back July 13 but instead was parked east of the city.

Bouhlel rode a bike to the truck, Molins said.

About 25 minutes before the fireworks show, he clambered aboard and drove toward the city — and the crowded promenade near Nice’s glittering hotels.

The truck’s murderous journey lasted 15 city blocks.

Video showed the truck moving slowly at one point — so slowly that a man in a white shirt was able, at a run, to catch up with it. There were two sharp sounds as he caught up with it. It was unclear whether the sounds were him banging on its closed back doors to get it to stop, or gunfire.

A speeding motorcycle rider also pulled even with the driver’s cab, swerving with a screech of tires around a pedestrian. The motorcyclist ditched his bike and also ran alongside and even managed to grab the truck to try to get it to stop.

Then the truck dramatically picked up speed as people fled in terror.

“I thought it could either be a drunk driver or a terror attack,” said German tourist Richard Gutjahr, who filmed it from a hotel balcony.

People were hit head on. “A lot of them had been dragged under the lorry and were not recognizable,” English tourist Simon Coates, who was cycling back to his hotel when the truck approached, told the BBC. “I saw some dreadful things. It was like a chamber of horrors. Every person seemed to have died in an increasingly grotesque way.”

Molins said Bouhlel shot at three police officers outside the palatial Negresco Hotel. They fired back and pursued the truck as it continued on for another 300 meters (yards) to the Palais de la Mediterranee Hotel. More shots were fired there.

Bouhlel was found dead in the passenger seat.

El Shafei, the 42-year-old Egyptian, said the truck ran over a girl before it stopped right in front of him.

While someone else pulled the motionless girl out from under the truck, El Shafei said he started to yell at the driver.

He’d seen the truck swerve and the driver wrestle with the wheel before it stopped, he said, making him think this was an accident — a loss of control of the vehicle — until the shots rang out.

“I kept waving to him, ‘Stop, stop! There are people under your truck,’” El Shafei said.

Police urged people to run, he added. He thought, “The truck has a bomb or something or maybe he is a suicide guy.”

Panic gripped the promenade.

Cyril Croisy jumped off a wall to the beach, breaking his arm. He hid there until he felt it was safe to emerge. The Parisian had seen the truck’s trajectory and knew immediately that this was an attack because it careened straight at a stand selling candy to children.

“We heard lots of people screaming, and we saw the truck continuing very, very fast,” he said.

Croisy saw an injured woman and said he crouched to help her. His eyes filled with tears at the still-raw memory.

“I was there when her heart stopped,” he said.

He also heard a ringing phone that apparently belonged to a man who had been mowed down.

Croisy answered it. It was the man’s female companion, a short distance away, looking for him.

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  • it can’t be an act of terrorism–this idiot’s job was as a truck driver,and since he was driving a truck it is workplace violence according to the white house.

  • we are at war.

    whether we like it or not, even if the president and first female felon running for president refuse to admit it, radical islamic terrorists are prosecuting a war. their target: anyone who disagrees with their uber-violent version of the otherwise violent islam.

    attacks within the u.s. have already taken place. these attacks will increase along with the numbers killed.

    politically correct enablers should not be leading this country’s fight for survival against radical islamic terrorism.

  • Organizations that enjoy the benefits of our constitution and bill of rights, ngo’s, need to be monitored for promoting hateful acts against the citizens that are supporting vicariously through tax benefits and govt. grants.

  • To allow Muslims into the West is just as imbecile as would be to allow Nazis into Israel and pay for their living expenses. But it happens all the time.

    • But media reports are saying the driver of the truck was not a practicing Muslim. Family members are saying he drank alcohol, ate pork, never went to prayer and never went to the mosque. He apparently was a domestic abuser as well. Could it me that this guy was just some run of the mill nut case? Maybe we should wait a little bit before assuming that this was a case of “terrorism” no?

  • As Newt observed – anyone that practices the ‘Sharia Law’ should be banned from the US. Culturally, they can’t be assimilated into this country with these crazy beliefs. This is what Trump mentioned in the beginning when he stated that Muslims should be banned from entering the US and drew an uproar. He should have placed more detail into his statement that everyone took WRONG.

    Obama & Democrats demanded a bann on assault weapons after the Orlando massacre. Still do….

    The NRA/Republicans told them how ‘guns’ are not the problem.

    The Obama administration will now ‘ban’ Lorry’s/Large trucks ??

  • The use of a truck as a killing machine by terrorists was not surprising to me, but probably was to government officials who are supposed to keep us safe. Following every terrorist attack, their focus has habitually, obsessively and almost exclusively been on gun control. The Nice massacre shows there are other very effective and easy ways for terrorists to kill and strike fear amongst people. It does not take much imagination to think of a few. It is inevitable that we will be hearing or reading about one in the not-too-distant future.

  • We visited Paris about 20 years ago.
    Even back then.. muslims everywhere.
    Not the “French” country we envision before our trip.

    “A muslim is a muslim, is a muslim”

  • Officials say the truck shouldn’t have been on that street. Apparently all side streets had been blocked off to create a pedestrian only promenade. The question is: How did the truck get through the blockades? Somebody must’ve screwed up. Investigations will soon pinpoint the blame. From this day forward, all street celebrations that attract huge pedestrian crowds will be better protected — not only in France but throughout the world. Whatever forms the protection takes, we now know that it must be able to stop huge vehicles. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. Hopefully this type of mayhem won’t ever happen again.

      • If there were cylinders of frozen ice cream in the truck hiding C4 explosives would they still get through to serve the hungry children enjoying the fireworks? Terrorists have very intelligent evil minds. I think Mossad is going to become popular and given licenses to kill. Extreme problems require extreme solutions.

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