By Sophie Sassard and Michel Bernouin via Reuters
NICE, France (Reuters) – An attacker at the wheel of a heavy truck plowed 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.
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 10:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m. ET).
According to one city official, the truck careered on for up to two km (1.5 miles). Several children were among the dead.
“People went down like ninepins,” Jacques, who runs Le Queenie restaurant on the seafront, told France Info radio.
The attack seemed so far to be the work of a lone assailant.
Hollande said in a pre-dawn address that he was calling up military and police reservists to relieve forces worn out by enforcing a state of emergency begun in November after Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers struck Paris entertainment spots on a Friday evening, killing 130 people.