July 15, 2016

Death Toll Rises in French Attack

At least 84 people have died, and more than 200 people were hospitalized following an attack on a crowd in Nice, France, celebrating Bastille Day. France’s President Francois Hollande called the attack on the crowd an act of terrorism, and counter-terrorism officials have reportedly begun an investigation.

According to reports, the attack began with Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a French-Tunisian living in Nice, driving a large truck into a crowd of people who were gathered to watch fireworks. The attack began at around 11:00 pm. Bouhlel reportedly drove the truck for a mile, zigzagging with the headlights off before police shot him.

Bouhlel’s truck contained arms and grenades, although police indicated some were fake. He did, however, shoot at police officers who attempted to stop him before he was shot by police. Investigators say Bouhlel was not on any watch lists but did have dealings with the police linked to petty crime.

So far the death toll sits at 84 people, including 10 children. More than 200 people were also hospitalized, with at least 25 on life support. An American father and his son were among the victims. Sean Copeland and his son, Brodie, were on a family vacation when the attack occurred, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Witnesses at the scene described chaos and carnage. Although counterterrorism investigators are looking into the attack, no group has claimed responsibility.

“France is horrified by what has just transpired—this monstrosity of using a truck to deliberately kill dozens of people who were merely celebrating July 14,” said Hollande in a news conference (as quoted by The Huffington Post). “But France will always be stronger than the fanatics that attempt to bring it down.” Hollande has declared three days of national mourning. The country was set to emerge from its national state of emergency in two weeks but will now remain under a state of emergency for at least another three months.

France had been under a state of emergency following a series of bombings in Paris in November 2015. That attack left 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded. BBC reports the bombings started with an explosion outside the Stade de France stadium when a man wearing a suicide belt detonated that belt after being refused entry to the stadium. That was followed by the detonation of a second and third suicide bomb at the stadium. Shortly after, attackers opened fire around Paris, including at a sold-out concert venue where attackers wearing suicide belts opened fire.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the attack and offered U.S. assistance in the investigation.

Publisher: Salient News