French President François Hollande, who on Friday visited the site of the terror attack in Nice and also met many of the injured victims in hospital, said around 50 people were critically wounded “between life and death”.
Hollande, flanked by prime minister Manuel Valls and health minister Marisol Touraine, said many of the 84 dead included foreigners as well as children.
“There are many children,” Hollande said. “Young children who had come to watch fireworks with their family, to have joy, to share happiness, delight, amazement, and who were struck, struck to death, merely to satisfy the cruelty of an individual – and maybe of a group.”
A white truck zigzagged through Bastille Day revellers in the port town, mowing down people indiscriminately. The attacker was finally shot dead as police arrived in the scene. Eighty four people had died in the incident, and around 200 injured.
“Many told me that they had no recollection of what might have caused their wounds,” Hollande recounted of his visit to hospitals. “However, they remember the bodies that were torn to shreds right in front of their eyes.”
The French president praised medical workers and emergency responders who were on the spot, helping the victims, despite the shock of the incident.
He also complimented French security forces, saying that they had “taken all necessary measures so that this fireworks show might be as protected as possible – as had been the case during the European Championship, by the way, here in Nice.”
“Why Nice? Because it is a city that is known worldwide, one of the most beautiful cities on the planet,” Hollande said. “Why the 14th of July? Because it is a celebration of liberty. And it is therefore to hit France that this individual committed this terrorist attack.”
The attack marked the third deadliest terrorist strike in recent times, following last Novembers attacks on a stadium, concert hall and restaurant, and January’s attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo.
The events led to France carrying out air raids in Syria, targeting Islamic State holdings.
Hollande warned that the fight against terrorism would be long, “because we have an enemy that will continue to strike all people, all countries that have liberties as essential values”.
“The whole world is watching us, once again.”