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 after his 30 minute rampage.
One eyewitness described seeing ‘bodies flying like bowling pins’ and others ‘jammed’ under the lorry’s wheels as the horror unfolded at around 10.30pm local time last night.
Heartbroken men and women refused to leave the bodies of their loved ones and the dead remain strewn across the famous Promenade de Anglais today.
Some of the victims were children, with young girls and boys lying dead covered in a blankets with their dolls and buggies still next to them. Footage taken at the time of the attack shows bodies piled up in the roads and people running from their lives as they tried to avoid the zig-zagging lorry while paramedics treated the injured and dying in the street.
The truck driver was said to have shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is great in Arabic – before being killed in a clear suicide mission. Pro-ISIS groups have been celebrating the attack, orchestrated to coincide with France’s most important national holiday.
A huge cache of guns, grenades and ‘larger weapons’ and the terrorist’s identity papers were later found inside the lorry, which mounted the pavement at approximately 40mph and steered directly towards hundreds of people watching a fireworks display.
ISIS supporters have been celebrating the attack, orchestrated to coincide with France’s most important national holiday. 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.
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.’