In another bloody terrorist attack in France, as many as 84 people, including children, are reportedly dead and 50 injured in Nice after a terrorist in a truck plowed through 1.24 miles of people in a crowd celebrating a national holiday Thursday evening.
The truck driver reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar!” according to the local newspaper, Nice Matin, which said the man was a 31-year-old Nice resident of Tunisian origin, who was known to police for common crimes, but not to the intelligence service.
The driver “zig-zagged” through the crowd at 40 miles per hour to hit as many people as possible and shot at them as he drove, witnesses say. Early reports said his truck was loaded with arms and grenades, but sources close to the police said the grenades were “inactive” and the rifles “fake.”.
The driver was reportedly shot dead by police, who are said to be hunting for the second suspected attacker.
Unconfirmed reports in the French media say ISIS has claimed responsibility for the Nice attack. Jihadist networks celebrated the carnage on social media.
French President Francois Hollande addressed the nation, saying, “We have seen extreme violence, and it’s obvious we must do everything to fight this terrorism.”
He said France’s state of emergency, which was supposed to end on July 26, has now been extended three months.
Hollande added: “Following this, we will show real force and military action in Syria and Iraq.”
During a Bastille Day reception at the French embassy in Washington, France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gerard Araud, said, “Our democracies – France, the United States, our other partners, we are besieged. We face a terrible threat.”
The White House released a statement on Twitter in which President Obama condemned the bloodbath as “what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack.”
“Gunshots rang out in the streets, with gunmen targeting hotels and cafes in the port city as residents were warned to lock themselves in doors for their safety,” the Daily Mail reported. “Hostages have been taken in a hotel in the city. The RAID anti-terror squad has been deployed to the city.”
The large vehicle ran into the crowd of people celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais seaside sidewalk.
The news came just as London’s Express reported the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, was ablaze after a truck filled with fireworks ignited the structure. French police say it was an accidental truck fire and has been extinguished.
The following is an image posted to Twitter:
Meanwhile, two explosions were heard through Brussels, Belgium, as a fire ripped through the capital city, according to the Express.
The fires broke out less than two miles from the European Parliament and three miles from the European Commission offices. Authorities said the explosions were deliberately set off but it wasn’t a terrorist attack, according to Sky News. There were no casualties.
The following photo was posted to Twitter after the explosions:
Back in Nice, France, the driver of the truck reportedly aimed for people as they tried to flee.
Wassim Bouhlel, a Nice native, told the Associated Press he saw a truck drive into the crowd. Then he said the man exited the truck and began shooting.
“There was carnage on the road,” Bouhlel said. “Bodies everywhere.”
People fled the scene, and there were reports of loud explosions.
The station said the government is asking citizens to remain at home.
“It’s total panic,” a witness told the channel by telephone, according to the London Telegraph. “We saw a white lorry which drove directly into people on the Promenade des Anglais. A gunman fired into the crowd before being shot by police. Perhaps they are dead, I’m not sure.”
An Agence France-Presse reporter on the scene said he saw the white truck speeding toward people as they left the celebration.
“We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around,” he said.
Another witness said, “It is absolute chaos. … Police are flooding the streets, including anti-terrorism officers. Nobody knows what to do, except to hide away. Gunmen are meant to be targeting hotels.”
GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump reacted to news of the Nice attack.
“Another horrific attack, this time in Nice, France,” he said. “Many dead and injured. When will we learn? It is only getting worse.”
Democratic Party presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton told CNN she’s “sick at heart about what happened to the French people.
“This is a horrific attack,” she said. “It reminds us very vividly and tragically that we need to stand with our allies and not abandon them, and we have to strengthen our alliances, including with NATO, not undermine them. Clearly terrorist groups are seeing they have opportunities inside France for both homegrown terrorism and importing terrorists.”
This was reported to be the truck that drove into the crowd:
More photos and video from the scene posted to social media (Warning: Graphic photos):
(Warning: The following video contains graphic images of the aftermath of an attack)