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France's horror: Organisation claims attack responsibility

France's horror: Organisation claims attack responsibility

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

  • ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack
  • 84 are confirmed dead after a white truck drove into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice
  • Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhel has been named as the attacker 
     
  • More than 100 people were injured
     
  • Prosecutors suspect this was a planned terrorist attack
  • Follows 130 killed in terror attacks in November 2015

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: Images/content in this coverage may be distressing or graphic.

UPDATE 6.20AM: The Amaq news outlet reports ISIS has claimed responsibility for the truck attack on Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, France.

Amaq, reported to support the Islamic State, announced "The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France, to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State.

"He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State."

UPDATE 5:53PM: FRENCH media have reported that at least three men have been arrested for allegedly being involved in yesterday's deadly attack in Nice. 

The men were reported to have known the man alleged to have driven a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day and were arrested during police raids. 

Reuters reported French police were still trying to determine if the truck driver acted alone. 

 

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel
Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel French Government Handout

UPDATE: The French Government has released the name and an image of the man believed to be responsible for the attack.

The French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhel was "not known to intelligence services for activities linked to radical Islam," reports the Independent.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is insisting the attacker is linked to Islamic extremism "one way or the other."

Another man has also been arrested at a vigil in Nice. 

Buzzfeed is reporting on eyewitnesses saying the man had a "large knife" or "machete" and was trying to attack people. 

UPDATE: THE death toll from the catastrophe in France has now risen to 84. 

At least  another 18 people are in critical condition after a truck driver drove into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. 

The truck driver, named as a 31-year-old man from Tunisia, was shot dead by police at the scene. 

The area was packed with families and tourists as they gathered to watch Bastille Day fireworks. 

Hospitals in the area have put out a call to the public to donate blood to help treat the injured. 

Australian journalist Ben Terry was in Nice on holidays and shared video of the city in the aftermath of the attack, including a crowd sheltering inside. 

EARLIER:

FRENCH media is reporting 77 are confirmed dead after a white truck mowed down a crowd of people during Bastille Day celebrations in the city of Nice, in the south of France.

The first estimates from the scene suggested "dozens" were killed. The toll has continued to rise since then.

The attack occurred at the end of celebrations, after 10pm local time.

President of the Nice region Eric Ciotti described the famed Promenade des Anglais as "a scene of horror". The street is popular with visiting tourists.
 


The UK Telegraph reports the truck driver aimed at the crowd, leaving dead and injured people on the street.

One witness said the truck was travelling "at 60-70 kilometres per hour".

Bodies could also be seen lying on the floor by the beach as police and emergency services attempted to calm the panic.

One witness told reporters it was "absolute chaos".

"There are reports of dozens of people killed, and many more injured. Bodies are lying everywhere.

"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." 

The driver was shot dead by police.

Guns and grenades were also reportedly discovered in the vehicle.
 

The regional government labelled the massacre a "terrorist attack" while an interior ministry spokesman said it was too early to know what motivated the killers.

The manager of a restaurant in Nice told of watching the truck "drive on to the pavement".

"There was a massive panic there must have been somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500 people on the Promenade des Anglais.

There was an awful panic, people were running everywhere.

We provided a refuge for some people, mothers, children.

There were people lying on the ground who were injured or worse.

"There were children in tears."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has released a statement on the attack, saying "we stand resolutely with the people of France".

She also confirmed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade was giving consular assistance to those caught up in the attack.

She said the department was "urgently" working to find out if others were affected.

Read the full statement below.

The Australian Government condemns the Bastille Day attack in Nice which has left many people dead and injured. Once again we stand resolutely with the people of France. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the victims and their families.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing consular assistance to Australians caught up in the attack and are urgently seeking to determine whether any other Australians have been affected.

We have re-issued our travel advice for France to reflect the attack, but the overall level of advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in France.

Australians in Nice should remain attentive to their surroundings, avoid affected areas and follow the instructions of local authorities.
                
If you have any concerns for the welfare of family and friends in Nice you should attempt to contact them directly. If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare you should call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 if calling from overseas.

France is a valuable counter-terrorism partner for Australia. We cooperate closely in the fight against ISIL/Daesh and in addressing the problems of violent extremism and foreign fighters.

 

 

[EARLIER]
FRANCE'S HORROR: "Dozens" killed as truck ploughs into Bastille Day celebrations

DOZENS are reportedly dead after a truck crashed in a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in southern France.

French prosecutors are now estimating up to 60 have been killed.

President Francois Hollande is returning to Paris for crisis meeting following the "attack"

Hundreds were reported fleeing the scene after the vehicle careered into people who had gathered to celebrate the country's official independence day.

The incident is believed to have happened on the Promenade des Anglais during a firework display.


An AFP reporter told of seeing a white van driving at high speed on the strip, as peole were leaving the Bastille celebrations.

"We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around," he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has released a statement in relation to the attacks for Australian residents who may be affected:

The Australian Embassy in Paris is making urgent enquiries to determine whether any Australians have been affected by the incident at the Bastille Day celebration in Nice, France.

If you have any concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region you should attempt to contact them directly.

If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare you should call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 if calling from overseas."

The truck driver is understood to have driven "at high speed" through the crowd. There are conflicting reports, with some witnesses saying the driver was shot dead while in the vehicle.

Others say the driver emerged from the vehicle and attempted to open fire.

Meanwhile plumes of black smoke and flames have been spotted near France's iconic Effel Tower. 

This is not thought to be related to the Nice incident, but the result of an accident involving a truck carrying fireworks.
 

France remains under a "state of emergency" following last year's attacks on Paris by Islamic State and Al-Qadea recruits which left close to 150 people dead.

Nice's mayor Christian Estrosi has tweeted "tens of people" had been killed in the crash and urged people to stay indoors.

 

There have also reportedly been exchanges of gunfire between the driver and the police.  The truck was reportedly seen "riddled with bullets".

French media is reporting that as many as 30 people have been killed.

It is currently unknown whether the crash was intentional or not.

Local newspaper Nice Matin reports there was "a lot of blood and without doubt many injured".

One image on Twitter shows dozens of people lying injured on the floor with another showing a white lorry stopped in the middle of the street with four police officers observing it from a nearby palm tree.
 

 

Images and video from the scene have been posted on social media (GRAPHIC CONTENT)