An attacker at the wheel of a heavy truck ploughed into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing at least 84 people and injuring scores more in what President Francois Hollande called a terrorist act.
The driver, identified by a police source as a 31-year-old Tunisian-born Frenchman, also appeared to open fire before officers shot him dead. The man was not on the watch list of French intelligence services, but was known to the police in connection with common crimes such as theft and violence, the source said.
The bloodshed came on Bastille Day, a celebration of everything France holds dear, its secular republic and the values of “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity).
Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 18 people were in a critical condition after the attack on Thursday night, when the white truck zigzagged along the seafront Promenade des Anglais as a fireworks display marking the French national day ended just after 10.30pm (2030 GMT).
Here are the highlights related to the incident:
- 4pm: Police say ID found with Nice truck attacker is of French petty criminal, 31, of Tunisian descent; no DNA confirmation: AP
- 3.47pm: Two children died during surgery at a paediatric hospital close the scene of the attack, and others were “hanging between life and death,” a hospital official said.
- 3.40pm: Two Americans among those killed in the Bastille Day attack: US state department.
- 3.04pm: French news website Nice-Matin.com identifies truck driver who mowed down at least 84 people in Nice as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.
- 2.40pm: London Mayor Sadiq Khan says he is reassessing security levels in the British capital in the wake of the attack.
- 2.30pm: A witness told BFM TV: “I was in the street. He stopped just in front of me after he (crushed) a lot of people... We were trying to speak to the driver to get him to stop. He looked nervous. There was a girl under the car, he smashed her. The guy next to me pulled her out.” He then saw the driver pull out a gun and start shooting at police.
- 2.05pm: France declares three days of national mourning between July 16 and July 18.
- 2.04pm: Local newspapers says police operation currently underway at the home of the Nice attacker.
- 2.03pm: French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has cut short a visit to Mongolia to return to Paris because of the Nice attack.
- 1.50pm: According to Nice newspaper, 54 children have been admitted to the a hospital after the attack.
- 1.35pm: France truck attacker formally identified: Police source tells AFP. He is the same 31-year-old Franco-Tunisian man whose identity papers were found in the truck after the attack.
- 1.32pm: US secretary of state John Kerry told his Russian counterpart in Moscow the attack in Nice showed the need to speed up international efforts to tackle terrorism, especially in Syria.
- Roses are attached at a barrier near the scene after the attack in Nice. (AP Photo)
- 1.27pm: Friday’s 13th stage of the Tour de France will go ahead despite the terror attack.
- 1.07pm: Christian Estrosi, the regional president in Nice, said some of the city’s 1,200 security cameras had pinpointed the moment the attacker boarded the truck, far from the seaside “in the hills of Nice” and could follow his path to the promenade. “Attacks aren’t prepared alone. Attacks are prepared with accomplices,” Estrosi said. “There is a chain of complicity.” Estrosi said more than 10 children were among the dead.
- 1pm: Russian President Vladimir Putin sends a message of condolences to his French counterpart Hollande.
- 12.35pm: Describing the attack on Bastille Day as a “murderous act of terror”, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “The ANZACS of today were leading the Bastille Day Parade in Paris — a recognition of the sacrifice and heroism of a century ago and also of our resolute solidarity with the people of France in the struggle against Islamist terrorism today,” he said in a statement.
- 12.20pm: Italy says it will boost controls at three road crossings into France and at the Ventimiglia train link between the two countries following the truck attack in nearby Nice.
- Here is a quick update on what we know so far about the attack:
1) How did the attack unfold?
The white 19-tonne truck plunged into the crowd at around 2100 GMT on Thursday night as hundreds of people were on Nice’s beachfront Promenade des Anglais to watch the fireworks for France’s national day.
2) Was this a jihadi attack?
The attack has not been claimed by any group, but Hollande said in an address to the nation early Friday that the attack was of an “undeniable terrorist nature”. Prosecutors say the probe will be handled by anti-terrorism investigators.
3) How has the government reacted?
Hollande announced that the state of emergency would be extended by three months and army reservists called up to boost security. He also said France would strengthen its role in Iraq and Syria, where it is part of the international coalition fighting IS jihadists.
- 11.34am: German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemns the attack. “All of us who have come together at the ASEM summit are united in our feeling of disbelief at the attack of mass murder in Nice,” Merkel said on the sidelines of a summit between Asian and European leaders in Mongolia.
- 11.20am: President Pranab Mukherjee writes to his French counterpart Hollande. “I am deeply pained to learn that France is once again afflicted by a major tragedy caused by a heinous act of terror last evening. The pre-meditated massacre of innocent people as they were participating in Bastille Day celebrations - including, sadly, many children, is an unspeakable crime.”
- 11.07am: Death toll goes up to 84; another 18 in “critical condition”, says interior ministry spokesperson Pierre-Henry Brandet
- 10.56am: Nice truck attacker has been identified as a 31-year-old French-Tunisian known to French police for common law crimes, but not to intelligence services: Reuters
- 10.45am: President Hollande has announced he is calling up army reservist to boost security in France.
- 10.30am: Facebook has activated its Safety Check function after the Nice attack.(AFP)
- 9.45am: The attack has not been claimed by any group. Prosecutors say the probe will be handled by anti-terrorism investigators.
- 9.40am: A separate source tells AFP an “inactive” grenade was found inside the 19-tonne truck, as well as “several fake rifles”
- 9.39am: Driver of Nice truck fired pistol before being shot dead, investigative sources tell AFP.A man walks near the scene of the attack. (AP Photo)
- 9.30am: Hillary Clinton says Americans stand “in strong solidarity with the people of France,” after a truck attack in Nice, France, adding, “We will not be intimidated.”
- 9.20am: On Twitter, citizens offer safe refuge under the hashtag #PortesOuvertesNice (Nice Open Doors). An account called SOS Nice has been set up where desperate pleas for news of missing loved ones are going out.
- The front page of French daily Le Figaro. The headline reads: “Horror, again”.
- 8.40am: This image shows the lorry which was used in the attack, with bullet holes in the windscreen after police opened fire.(AP Photo)
- 8.17am: The UN Security Council strongly condemns the “barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack”.
- 8.09am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweets on the attack:
I hope the injured recover soon. India shares the pain & stands firmly with our French sisters & brothers in this hour of immense sadness.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 15, 2016
Appalled by the horrific attack in Nice. I strongly condemn such mindless acts of violence. My thoughts are with the families of deceased.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 15, 2016
- 8am: French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve says “identification of the criminal is in progress”, refusing to confirm reports that an ID card was found after police shot the truck driver.
- 7.54am: French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve says death toll now 80.
- 7.50am: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says in the aftermath of a deadly truck attack in France that if he’s elected president he would ask Congress for a declaration of war on the Islamic State. In an interview with Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” Trump says, “This is war.” Trump has postponed an announcement on his running mate for the US presidential elections.
- 7.40am: Hollande says children among those killed and that 20 injured people are in a critical state.(AFP)
- 7.34am: Hollande says he will go to Nice on Friday to show his support for the city. He says France will “again reinforce its (military) action in Iraq and Syria. State of emergency extended by three months. It was in place since multiple attacks in November.
- 7.30am: French President Francoise Hollande says cannot be denied it was a terrorist attack
- 7.15am: Identity papers found in the lorry were of a 31-year-old man from Nice with dual French and Tunisian nationality, a police source has told AFP.
- 7am: The president of the region that includes Nice has announced that the city’s jazz festival, due to open on Saturday, and a Rihanna concert planned for Friday evening, have both been cancelled.
- .6.58am: No Indian is reported to be affected in the ‘terror attack’. “Our Ambassador in Paris is in touch with the Indian community in Nice. So far no report of any Indians affected,” external affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
- .6.57am: He also said the Indian embassy in Paris had opened the helpline number 33-1-40507070.
- 6.30am: US President Barack Obama has condemned what he says “appears to be a horrific terrorist attack”. Obama says, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and other loved-ones of those killed.”
- 6.28am: France’s ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, characterised the events in Nice as a “terrorist attack.”