NICE – At least 84 people were killed while over 100 injured on Thursday night when an armed driver drove a heavy truck at high speed into a crowd while they were celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice.
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French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that at least 18 wounded people are in a critical condition and that the death toll could mount. A state of emergency has been invoked in the city, he added.
Several children and women were also among the dead and the injured taken to different hospitals in the city.
Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports in French media said that the Middle East based Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, investigators are still looking for a clear evidence to this effect.
The attacker was identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old French national of Tunisian origin. He was a resident of the city of Nice and killed by forces after the attack.
In a statement released immediately after the attack, French President Francoise Hollande termed the attack a terrorist activity, adding “France is filled with sadness by this new tragedy”.
He called the mass murder an attack on the liberty of the people by fanatics who despised human rights.
Police officials said that advanced weapons and grenades were also found inside the 25-tonne, unmarked articulated truck. They, however, refused to share personal details about the attacker.
It is also pertinent to be mentioned here that Bastille Day is celebrated in France to mark the anniversary of the 1789 revolutionary storming of the Bastille. The ceremony targeted in the city of Nice was also part the celebrations where people enjoying fireworks.
The carnage came eight months and a day after the Paris attacks in which the Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers targeted six different locations in the French capital killing 130 people.
Moreover, about four months ago, militants associated with Islamic State group killed 32 people in Brussels, storming three different sites including the city’s international airport.
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