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Friday, July 15, 2016, 16:31

Truck slams into revelers in Nice, at least 84 dead

By Agencies

Truck slams into revelers in Nice, at least 84 dead
The truck which slammed into revelers late July 14, is seen near the site of an attack in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

NICE, France - A truck loaded with weapons and hand grenades drove onto a sidewalk for more than a mile, plowing through Bastille Day revelers who'd gathered to watch fireworks in the French resort city of Nice late Thursday. At least 84 people were killed before police killed the driver, authorities said.

The Chinese Consulate in Marseilles confirmed that two Chinese people had been injured in the attack.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has extended condolences to the victims and their families in the attack and condemned "terrorism in all forms."

Chinese President Xi Jinping called his French counterpart Francois Hollande to offer his condolences over a deadly truck attack in Nice.

Xi strongly condemned the "appalling brutality", and expressed deep grief to the victims and sincere condolences to the injured and families of the victims.

Hollande said Thursday's lethal attack was clearly a terrorist assault and that the state of emergency imposed since a previous attack on Paris last November would be extended for another three months.

"There's no denying the terrorist nature of this attack of yet again the most extreme form of violence," the French leader said in a national television address at 4 am (0200 GMT), about five or six hours after the carnage in Nice.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said "we are in a war with terrorists who want to strike us at any price and in a very violent way."

He said police were trying to determine the driver's identity, refusing to confirm reports an ID card had been found in the truck.

The attack seemed so far to be the work of a lone assailant. Newspaper Nice-Matin quoted unidentified sources as saying the driver was a 31-year-old local of Tunisian origin.

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.

Hollande announced a series of measures to bolster security. Besides continuing the state of emergency and the Sentinel operation with 10,000 soldiers on patrol, he said he was calling up "operational reserves," those who have served in the past and will be brought in to help police, particularly at French borders.

Paris prosecutor's office has opened a terrorism investigation over the truck attack.

Truck slams into revelers in Nice, at least 84 dead

The ranking politician of the Alpes-Maritime department that includes Nice said the truck plowed into the crowd over a distance of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), killing 80 people and wounding 50. Eighteen of them were gravely wounded. Many of those on the ground were in shorts and other summer clothing.

Eric Ciotti said on BFM TV that police killed the driver "apparently after an exchange of gunfire."

Sylvie Toffin, a press officer with the local prefecture, said the truck ran over people on a "long trip" down the sidewalk near Nice's Palais de la Mediterranee, a building that fronts the beach. She called the incident "an attack."

Wassim Bouhlel, a Nice native who spoke to the AP nearby, said that he saw a truck drive into the crowd. "There was carnage on the road," he said. "Bodies everywhere."

The president of the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur regional council, which includes Nice, said the truck was loaded with arms and grenades. Christian Estrosi told BFM TV that "the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him."

Bouhlel said he witnessed the man emerge with a gun and start shooting.

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