A terrorist gunman has killed 84 people and seriously injured 50 more after he used a 25-tonne lorry to go on a mile-long killing spree by mounting pavements at high speed and ploughing through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice last night.
The killer, a 31-year-old French Tunisian who was known to police, then got out and sprayed fleeing revellers with bullets before being shot dead by police., Dailymail said.
The truck driver was said to have shouted “Allahu Akbar” – God is greatest – before being killed. Pro-ISIS groups have been celebrating the attack, orchestrated to coincide with France’s most important national holiday.
One eyewitness described seeing “bodies flying like bowling pins” and others “jammed” under its wheels as the horror unfolded.
Other brave victims were seen clinging to the doors of the lorry to try to stop the terrorist before being thrown under its wheels on the packed promenade at around 10.30pm local time last night. Dead bodies remain strewn across the Promenade de Anglais today.
Some of the victims were children, with one young girl lying dead covered in a blanket with her pink toy doll lying on the floor next to her.
Identity documents belonging to the gunman, more guns and grenades were later found in the bullet-riddled truck after the gunman at the wheel was shot dead by police marksmen, security sources said.
The gunman is believed to be from Nice and was known to police for crimes of theft and violence, but not intelligence services, a police source said. A suspected accomplice is on the run.
A huge cache of guns, grenades and “larger weapons” were later found inside the lorry, which mounted the pavement at approximately 40mph and steered directly towards hundreds of people watching a fireworks display.
French President Francois Hollande today pledged to “hit” ISIS in Syria and Iraq “even harder” after the devastating attack, saying: “France is in tears, it is hurting but it is strong and she will be stronger – always stronger than the fanatics who wish to hurt us.”
Today the delivery truck, riddled with bullets, remains in the centre of Nice with bodies strewn nearby.
Damien Allemand, a journalist for French regional newspaper Nice Matin saw the horror unfold.
He said the attack began just as the fireworks display ended as thousands of people were milling around the waterside.
He said: “He rode up onto the Prom and piled into the crowd. A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people,” he said. I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.”
Witnesses of the attack in Nice described seeing people run through the streets as they heard gunshots.
Wassim Bouhel told the French TV channel iTele that the lorry zigzagged across the road.
He said: “We almost died. It was like hallucinating … (the lorry) zigzagged – you had no idea where it was going. My wife was a metre away.
“The lorry ripped through everything, poles, and trees. We have never seen anything like it. Some people were hanging on the door and tried to stop it.”
Around 100 people were forced to dive into the sea as panic ensued and holiday crowds desperately ran for their lives. The gunman then jumped out of the truck and opened fire, which is when he was shot dead by police.
French President Francois Hollande said several children were among the dead and added that it was “undeniable” the massacre was a terrorist attack.