Bastille Day attack
Terror and chaos after armed man drives truck into crowds celebrating France’s national day in Nice
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06:45Good morning. At least 80 people have been killed and about 100 more injured when an armed man drove a truck at full speed into a crowd who had gathered to watch the Bastille Day fireworks display over the seafront in Nice on Thursday night. French president François Hollande said early on Friday that "Once more horror has struck France".
06:47Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has confirmed that three Australians are among the injured. There is no information about any Irish nationals being among the dead or injured.
07:01The Reuter news agency is reporting a police source as saying that the gunman who killed at least 80 people when he drove a heavy truck into a crowd in Nice was a 31 year-old Franco-Tunisian born in Tunisia.
The man was not on the watch list of French intelligence services, but was known to police in connection with common law crimes such as theft and violence, the source said.
07:05Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said the terrible events in Nice had left him deeply shocked and saddened.
“I deplore the loss of life, and offer heartfelt condolences to the people of France from the people of Ireland. This attack on people as they celebrated Bastille Day with friends and family on a fine summer’s evening is particularly horrendous, and my thoughts and sympathies are with the relatives of the dead and injured.”
The Minister said his department is monitoring the situation closely and the Irish Ambassador in France Geraldine Byrne Nason and her staff are seeking to establish whether any Irish citizens have been caught in the tragic events.
Anyone concerned about relatives who may have been caught up in the attack can contact the emergency consular helpline 00353 1 408 2000.
07:06The AFP agency is reporting that the death toll is now 84.
07:17Laurence Marie from the Lenval paediatric hospital has told Reuters news agency “many” children were undergoing serious operations there.
07:37France's interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, says: “We are at war with terrorists who want to strike us at any cost and who are extremely violent.”
07:37French president Francois Hollande is on his way to Paris to chair an emergency security and defence meeting at 9am. He will then head to Nice.
07:45What we know so far:
- At least 84 people dead and 18 in critical condition
- Terrorist drives truck through crowd in Nice
- No reports of any Irish injured, Department investigating
- Hollande extends state of emergency by three months
- Are you in Nice? Please email us: email@example.com
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said on Friday morning he was deeply shocked and saddened at this horrific attack in Nice.
"Once again innocent people have been targeted at an occasion of joy and celebration. French people have suffered appallingly and have again been the victim of cynical, and wanton violence. We cannot and will not yield to this malevolence.
“On behalf of myself, the Government and the Irish people I want to express our deepest sympathies and our solidarity to President Hollande and to all of France."
Irish Times' Paris correspondent Lara Marlowe is in Nice and will be reporting the latest updates throughout the day.
#PrayForNice is the top trending term on Twitter
Russian president Vladimir Putin sent a message of condolences to his French counterpart Francois Hollande over mass killings in the French city of Nice, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today.
"People were screaming, kids were crying"
Witness Grace Ann Morrow was close to the promenade when the attack happened.
She told the BBC: “I got separated from my aunt and uncle and I was looking around for them and we just had no idea what was going on. It was complete chaos.
“People were screaming, kids were crying, security guards were on their walkie-talkies and we were so close.
“To have all that erupt on such a positive evening was such a paradox.” PA
What we know so far
- Eyewitnesses said the driver swerved from side to side to kill as many people as possible as he drove for hundreds of metres along the Promenade des Anglais on the seafront.
- One witness said the driver produced a gun before being shot by police.
- No hostages were taken and the lorry driver was “neutralised”, with authorities investigating if he was acting alone.
- Nice regional president Christian Estrosi said guns and grenades were found in the lorry.
- As the sun rose on Friday morning, the lorry could still be seen where it finally came to a halt, its windscreen peppered with bullet holes.
- French president Francois Hollande said the country’s state of emergency would be extended for another three months.
- French media reported that the killer was known to police but for petty crime, not terrorism.
- A military operation is in place allowing the mobilisation of 10,000 troops.
- Mr Hollande said the country’s borders were being tightened, as he vowed that France would show “real force and military action in Syria and Iraq”.
- A Rihanna concert scheduled for Friday night at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice has been cancelled, as have the city’s jazz festival, which was due to run from Saturday to Wednesday, and some of the Bastille celebrations over the weekend. PA
- Are you in Nice? You can contact The Irish Times at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour de France stage goes ahead, festivities off due to terror attack, AFP is reporting
In a press conference at the scene, French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said identification of the criminal was in progress, refusing to confirm reports that an ID card was found.
09:07The incident is being treated as a terrorist attack, but no group has claimed responsibility.
Tour de France update
The Tour de France's 13th stage got underway under tightened security today after riders had observed a minute's silence in tribute to the scores of victims of the Bastille Day attack in the southern French city of Nice.
A gunman at the wheel of a heavy truck ploughed into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice late on Thursday, killing at least 84 people and injuring scores more in what President Francois Hollande called a terrorist act.
The stage began at 08.05 GMT, later than scheduled after race organisers debated whether it should be cancelled.
The stage is a 37.5km (23.5mile) time trial from Bourg-saint-Andeol to Vallon Pont-d'Arc in the Ardeche region some three hours' drive northwest of Nice.
"We had a crisis meeting with the prefect of the Ardeche department and the gendarmerie. The stage is on," said race director Christian Prudhomme.
"We want this day to be a day of dignity as a tribute to the victims. We asked ourselves (whether the stage should be cancelled) but we think, after agreeing with authorities, that the race must continue."
The prefecture of the Ardeche department said security was being reinforced along Friday's route.
Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the people who were killed last night in Nice. It was a horrendous and callous attack on people's freedom as they celebrated Bastille Day. It is shocking that the people of France have yet again been visited by such horrific tragedy.
"We must all stand together in total condemnation of this tragedy."
‘A person jumped on to the truck to try to stop it’
Eyewitnesses in the resort said they assumed the driver had lost control as panic broke out.
But reports from the south of France suggested the driver — believed to be a 31-year-old French-Tunisian man — then produced a gun before being shot dead by police.
Witness Eric Ciotti told Europe 1 radio of the horrifying moments people fled to safety — with some running into the sea in a desperate attempt to flee.
He added: “A person jumped on to the truck to try to stop it.
“It’s at that moment that the police were able to neutralise this terrorist. I won’t forget the look of this policewoman who intercepted the killer.”
Egyptian Nader El Shafei told the BBC he saw the driver “looking very nervous”.
He said: “I kept yelling at him, waving with my hands to stop and trying to tell him that there is a lot people under his truck — dead already. But he did not give any attention to anyone outside the truck.
“And suddenly I saw him picking up something like a cellphone. I thought he would call the ambulance for the accident but it seemed that I was wrong, because he just picked up his gun and he started to shoot the police.
“Just when they (the police) arrived they just felt something was wrong so they kept yelling at him and when he did not step out — they saw him from the window taking his gun out.
“They knew that would be a gun shooting so they just killed him right away — they did not wait to negotiate or something, they just opened fire on him.”
Christian Estrosi, the regional president in Nice, said at least 10 children were among the dead, and the death toll is expected to rise. PA
‘Unspeakably evil outrage'
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald said it is yet another time of great anguish for the people of France.
“The attack in Nice last night was an unspeakably evil outrage. Whatever its motivation, it seems clear that its intent was to kill, wound and terrorise ordinary people enjoying the freedoms we cherish so much,” she said.
“An Garda Síochána will, of course, be liaising closely with their French and other international counterparts about the attack and continue to take whatever measures are necessary to deal with the threat from terrorism.
“All who cherish democracy will stand with them in the knowledge that our values will ultimately prevail in the face of such savagery.”
'They were all easy prey'
One moment, there was a great street celebration for France’s Bastille Day holiday — and the next, a truck came barrelling through at high speed, leaving a trail of bodies, shock and despair through a French Riviera fiesta.
Among the first people killed by the speeding truck on the sidewalk next to Lenval Beach was the middle-aged Muslim woman. Two of her sons and other family members stood, weeping or frozen in stunned silence, around her body, which was covered in a pale blue tartan blanket.
Nearby there was another victim, an unidentified man sprawled on the sidewalk next to the beach beneath a bloodied sheet.
So numerous were the bodies that to protect their dignity, people had covered some of them with tablecloths snatched from the restaurants lining the Promenade des Anglais.
They were all easy prey — or, in the parlance of an era when this kind of killing has become all too common, they were soft targets.
The evening had been filled with bangs and flashes of light as fireworks displays rolled along France’s southern coast, drawing cheers from delighted families whose main worry for much of the day had been whether rain might force the cancellation of the celebration.
This was not a military base, or a guarded government building. It was simply a crowd celebrating in the street. Like the fans at the Bataclan, gunned down in Paris during a concert; or the newspaper staff of Charlie Hebdo; or the people blown up outside the airport in Turkey.
This time, all it took was a murderous driver and a massive truck. Witnesses said the truck had entered the Promenade des Anglais from a side street near the Foundation Lenval children’s hospital, turned left and mounted the sidewalk opposite a row of balconied seaside villas and apartment buildings.
At least 50 children have been hospitalised and several dead, AFP reports
More than 50 children were injured during attack
The children’s hospital in Nice said it has treated about 50 children injured in the truck attack, including two who died during or after surgery.
Stephanie Simpson, the communications director for the Lenval foundation hospital, said that injuries included fractures and head injuries and that the victims were aged 18 or under.
She said: “Some are still life and death.”
The hospital, equipped with one of France’s largest paediatric emergency units, also called the families of children it was treating before the attack to ask them to pick up their children to free up rooms for the attack victims. PA
Irish witnesses to Nice attack speak of ‘absolute terror’
Dubliner Stephen Milton, who is on holidays in Nice, said most locals and tourists had immediately thought a traffic accident had taken place on the Promenade des Anglais.
Caught up in the terror last night with his Australian boyfriend, Milton said when he first saw people running he did not realise a terrorist attack was underway.
Minutes before, the couple had walked past the Hard Rock/Meridien hotel where the attacker claimed most of his victims by weaving his truck through dense crowds celebrating Bastille Day.
“We turned the corner, I heard gun shots. I’d never heard gun shots before,” he said, adding that he and his partner then ran to a hotel where they sheltered in a store room.
“Most of the people were French, I have only pidgin French so I didn’t know exactly what they were saying. We had no idea what was going on. There were mixed feelings, some people thought it was an accident.
“Others thought it was terrorism. We tried to console some young girls who were beside us and were very upset. There were teens trying to get in touch with their parents.
Two young girls with them in the store-room were in “absolute terror”, he went on: “But there was also disbelief, a nonchalance, this isn’t what you think it is, it’s an accident, this is what they were telling us.”
“Some of the staff came into the store room to tell us what was happening, but they still weren’t sure. Some of them were displaying what you could call French nonchalance.
At least 10 children dead
Christian Estrosi, the regional president in Nice, said at least 10 children were among the dead, and the death toll is expected to rise.
French president Francois Hollande led a wave of condemnation from world leaders, saying: “France has been hit by a tragedy once again. This monstrosity of using a lorry to deliberately kill people, many people, who only came out to celebrate their national day.
“France is in tears. It is hurting but it is strong, and she will be strong, always stronger than the fanatics who wish to hurt us.”
He also said a military operation was in place which would allow the mobilisation of 10,000 troops, and that police from across the country would be called to assist their colleagues in Nice. PA
12:20An Irish citizen has been injured in the Nice attack and is understood to be in a critical condition, RTE news reports.
More on the Irish citizen
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said there is "concern" about one Irish person but said that position was unconfirmed.
He said the Irish Ambassador and the Department of Foreign Affairs had worked throughout the night to assist Irish citizens.
Irish Times’ correspondent Lara Marlowe reports from Nice that sources have told her that here was concern over nine Irish nationals who were understood to be in the crowd celebrating Bastille Day on the promenade. Eight have been located. There is a concern the ninth may be among the fatalities.
Reports (not confirmed) Nice airport has been evacuated due to a suspicious package
BREAKING: AP journalist at Nice airport: Evacuation in progress, reason unclear .— The Associated Press (@AP) July 15, 2016
13:28Suspect is named
The driver was identified by police sources as Tunisian-born Frenchman Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel (31).
He 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 sources said.
France was already living under a state of emergency imposed in November after Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers struck Paris entertainment spots on a Friday evening, killing 130 people, the bloodiest of a series of recent attacks. (Reuters)
13:31Airport evacuated after an unattended bag is found
Nice airport is being evacuated after an unattended bag was discovered at Terminal 1, an airport official said.
The official said it was a precautionary measure following the attack on the beach front Thursday night that left at least 84 people dead and dozens injured. (Reuters)
Lara Marlowe speaks to witnesses in Nice
‘I saw the bodies . . . I saw a man get hit’, says Irish witness in Nice
Twenty-two year-old Eoin Staunton from Tourmakeady near Westport came to work at Ma Nolan’s pub, a block from the Promenade des Anglais, on Friday morning, sleepless and having received the fright of his young life.
“We were walking back from a party at a hotel near the airport when we heard people screaming behind us. We turned and saw the crowd of people running towards us, with the truck advancing at such speed behind them. I think I saw two people fall,” Staunton said.
Less than 12 hours later, Staunton is still dazed. “It all happened so quickly,” he keeps repeating. “My girlfriend Lydia and I were ahead of the others. We were all spread out and we were trying to find each other. It didn’t click that it was a terrorist attack...It was just panic... ”
The group of friends took refuge on the rocky beach below the promenade. “We tried to climb back up but the police told us to stay there. That’s when I saw the bodies. One here and one here,” he says, gesturing to left and right with his hands. “I saw a man get hit...”
Staunton’s small group sought shelter in the Neptune Plage restaurant, along with 50 other people. “They closed the doors to keep us all in. They had the telly on. We were all trying to get internet to call our relatives. We were so lucky we all got away. My friend Philip was just feet away from getting hit... It’s crazy....”
Staunton arrived in Nice shortly before the Bataclan massacre in Paris last November, after finishing a degree in Irish and geography. His curly mop of hair hangs in his eyes. He’s sunburned and wears a claddagh ring. In two weeks, he’ll return to the safety of the west of Ireland.
Full story here
14:15Tunisian government condemns attack
The Tunisian government issued a statement condemning the attack "in the strongest possible terms". "
Tunisia stands by France in its fight against terrorism and supports any measure taken by the French government to protect its territory and the security of its citizens and visitors," the statement said.
Like France, Tunisia has also suffered badly from militant Islamist attacks in recent years. On June 23, 2015, a gunman killed 38 people, mostly British holidaymakers, on a beach in Sousse, in an attack that dealt a heavy blow to its tourism industry, which accounts for eight percent of national output.
14:22'We have moved into a new era,' French PM says
European leaders and security chiefs have a sobering message after the Bastille Day killings in Nice: such lone attacks using ordinary vehicles are nearly impossible to prevent and can be carried out by almost anyone.
"We have moved into a new era," said prime minister Manuel Valls. "And France will have to live with terrorism."
His Belgian counterpart, Charles Michel, said in Brussels -- where Islamic State militants staged attacks in March and where they planned last November's Paris attacks -- that "zero risk does not exist."
"We are now faced with a different modus operandi," he said in the Belgian capital which, like cities in France, is still on a state of high alert with troops and heavily armed police on the streets and on guard at major public events.
Belgium has anticipated such risks, Michel said, and is ready to protect its own national day festivities next Thursday. (Reuters)
14:45Fintan O’Toole writes there is a way to beat terror
"It has always been like this. Human beings have always known that what happened on the Promenade des Anglais on Thursday night can happen to any of us at any time. We are vulnerable creatures and unlike other species we are most vulnerable to our own kind. Every one of us - children on tricycles, old people in wheelchairs, people mourning their dead or people celebrating a holiday - is somebody’s legitimate target.
We create laws and limits but we know that, really, there no limits. There is only luck - some of us are lucky enough to live in times or places where there are no warring tribes, no marauding armies, no exterminationist ideologies, no messianic cults, no megalomaniacal emperors, no young men convinced that they can become immortal by preying like vampires on other people’s mortality.
Most parts of western Europe - and Ireland was not one of them - had a good run of such luck in recent decades. And now that luck is running out fast. The privilege of not having to think about our own vulnerability to atrocity has been withdrawn. The Nice attack is not a bolt from the blue; it is part of a new western European normality. In the last four years, there have been 12 such terror attacks in Europe, seven of them in France alone.
There will be more. We know this because there is a significant group of people for whom the Nice atrocity is a source, not of horror and disgust, but of quiet satisfaction, even celebration. And because, once you feel that way, killing lots of innocent people is appallingly easy - easy to think about and easy to do.
But this new normality is also a very old normality. Fear is as much a part of the human condition as joy or desire or creativity. And all we can do at times like this is to try to think about what we might have learned from history about how best to live with it and how not to be brutalised by it.
More than 300 years before the birth of Christ, the Greek philosopher Aristotle asked a crucial question: what emotions are stirred up in us when we witness tragedy?" Full article
14:5450 people still fighting for their lives
French president Francois Hollande said about 50 people were still fighting for the lives following the attack that killed at least 84 people in Nice.
"About 50 people are in an absolute urgency between life and death," Hollande said after visiting victims at a hospital in the French Riviera city.
He added that there were a lot of foreigners and children among the dead and warned that the fight against extremist groups would be long because they would continue to try to strike at Western values. (Reuters)
Irish Times' foreign correspondent Ruadhán Mac Cormaic has arrived in Nice to cover the latest in the aftermath of the Bastille Day attack.
Crowds in Nice today are a bit thinner than they can be in high summer, but it's no exodus. Airport was full of new arrivals earlier— Ruadhán Mac Cormaic (@RuadhanIT) July 15, 2016
The Irish Times view: Suddenly, the spectre of global terrorism, generally removed and distant, seems closer to home than ever
Irish tourists to Nice concerned but unlikely to cancel
‘If we cancelled, terrorism wins. Who wants that?’ Irish react to Bastille Day attack, Conor Pope writes
Irish people with plans to travel to France in the weeks ahead have expressed concern about their safety although most of those with bookings who made contact with The Irish Times via social media remained defiant in the face of the latest terrorist atrocity.
Tour operators have also said there has been no surge in bookings being cancelled either for this year or next and in the absence of any official warnings against travelling to France, airlines are carrying on as normal.
The chief executive of the Irish Travel Agents Association Pat Dawson said his members had not reported cancellations in any significant numbers today although he said it was probably still too early to say what the long-term impact on travel to France would be.
He said there were 187 flights from Ireland to France each week, something which emphasised how popular France is as a destination for Irish people. “I can understand why some people would be reluctant to travel to Nice now and not just because of security fears,” he said.
The ex-wife of the Nice truck attack suspect has been held for questioning, police say reports AFP
That's it from me today. Thank you for your company. For all the latest updates go to www.irishtimes.comAt least 84 people were killed after an armed man drove a heavy truck at high speed into a crowd in the southern French sea resort of Nice, a spokesman for the French interior ministry said.
According to reliable sources, there was concern around nine Irish people who were understood to be attending the event in Nice. Of those, eight have been contacted and are said to be safe, but there is a concern that the final person may be among the fatalities.
The truck driver was identified by police sources as Tunisian-born Frenchman Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel (31).
He 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 sources said.
French officials have released a statement saying 188 people are injured with 48 in intensive care.
French president Francois Hollande said earlier after visiting victims: “About 50 people are in an absolute urgency between life and death.”
He added that there were a lot of foreigners and children among the dead and warned that the fight against extremist groups would be long because they would continue to try to strike at Western values.
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