July 15, 2016

A truck ploughed through the intense crowd on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, after the firework show for the celebration of the 14 July Bastille Day, killing 84 people and injuring dozens. President François Hollande described the attack as “of the undeniable terrorist character,” which placed France in the absolute state of emergency. The attack, however, has not yet been claimed by any terrorist organisation. The French government had already lived through a breathless period of the Euro Cup, during which a new attack could probably take place. The attack of Thursday night, on the other hand, was more symbolic than a possible attack during the Euro Cup; as the masses on that night was celebrating the National Day.

The white truck of nineteen tones ripped through the crowd after the firework celebrations for a distance of two kilometres by 10:30 pm. A Nice resident who witnessed the attack on the Promenade des Anglais spoke to the French media, “The truck zigzagged – you had no idea where it was going. My wife… a metre away… she was dead. The lorry ripped through everything…poles, trees. We have never seen anything like it. Some people were hanging on the door and tried to stop it.” The driver, who changed the direction of the truck multiple times and zigzagged for the purpose of creating the maximum number of victims, also fired his weapon multiple times until he was shot dead by the police.

The driver of the truck, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, was known by the police solely for the minor violence. His last arrest for the reasons of violence dated less than a month ago. Because he did not pose a terror threat, he was unknown by the intelligence agencies in France. He was a dual citizen, holding both French and Tunisian passports. The French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur informs that the truck of the attack was stolen on 12 July. A witness, Nader, who talked to the French channel BFMTV, explained that, in the first instance, he thought the driver had lost the control of the truck, and the crush was an accident. “I was on the street. He stopped just before me after having crushed a lot of people. I saw a man on the street, we tried to talk together to the driver as he stopped. He seemed nervous. There was a girl under the vehicle, whom he has crushed.” According to him, the driver took a weapon and started to shoot at the police. It was that moment that “the police killed him”. Chyprien, another witness, related that “the truck was almost over us. I had the time for seeing the face of the driver, he was bearded, and he seemed like enjoying himself.”

The Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who activated an inter-ministerial body for overseeing the crisis and helping the victims, condemned the attack and declared that France was facing a war created by terrorism. François Hollande, who had maintained hours before the attack during his national address on the occasion of the Bastille Day that the state of emergency put in place after the November attacks would soon end, found himself dealing with a fatal terrorist attack and extending the state of emergency. He has announced the prolongation of the state of emergency for three months and declared three days of national mourning.


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