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Over 70 people slaughtered at Bastille Day event in France

Photo credit to New York Times

PARIS (Washington Post) -- A truck rammed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice on Thursday night, killing at least 70 people in an apparent terrorist attack as the driver also opened fire on revelers, French officials said.

The truck struck the crowd on the Promenade des Anglais, a seaside walk in the center of the city in southern France, authorities said. More than 50 people were reported injured. The driver fired on the crowd before being shot to death by police, officials said.

Christian Estrosi, a former mayor of Nice and currently president of the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, put the death toll at 75. He said in one of a series of Twitter messages that the truck was carrying arms and explosives when it struck the crowd at about 10:30 p.m. local time.

Estrosi told BFM TV that “the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him.”

Photos from the scene after truck plows into Bastille Day crowd in Nice, France
View Photos A truck rammed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French Riviera on Thursday night, killing at least 30 people in an apparent attack, French news media reported.
He added that the driver’s behavior appeared to be “completely premeditated.”

There was no immediate information on the identity of the driver or what motivated his action.

Local authorities were treating the incident as a terrorist attack and urging people to stay home, the French television channel BFM TV reported. It occurred as a large crowd was watching a fireworks display celebrating the French national holiday.

In Washington, President Obama released a statement Thursday night condemning “what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France.” He said he has directed his team to get in touch with French officials to assist with the investigation into the attack.

“We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack,” the statement said.

CNN quoted an American witness as saying he saw one person in the large white truck and heard gunfire, although it was not clear whether it came from the driver or was being fired at the vehicle.

The witness said the driver accelerated as he was mowing people down.

The Associated Press quoted Wassim Bouhlel, a Nice native, as saying that after slamming into the crowd, the truck driver emerged with a gun and started shooting.

“There was carnage on the road,” Bouhlel said. “Bodies everywhere.”

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bloodshed, although jihadist networks were celebrating it on social media.

France was rocked by a devastating terrorist attack in November, when heavily armed suicide bombers killed 130 people in several places around Paris. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, the worst bloodshed on French soil since World War II.

For more information about the incident, check out the Washington Post.

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