France Seaside Carnage : 84 Mowed Down

FPJ BureauUpdated: Thursday, May 30, 2019, 02:08 PM IST
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Nice: Parents of victims embrace each other near the scene of a truck attack in Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. A large truck mowed through revelers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, killing more than 80 people and sending people fleeing into the sea as it bore down for more than a mile along the Riviera city's famed waterfront promenade. AP/PTI(AP7_15_2016_000199B) |

This image of an abandoned doll seen at the attack site is going viral .

Nice : A  terrorist ploughed his truck through a crowd of thousands enjoying Bastille Day celebration in this French city mowing down at least 84 people, injuring some 150 — 18 critically, and numbing France which was witnessing its third attack in 18 months.

The killer truck was driven by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a French citizen of Tunisian origin. According to British tabloid Daily Mail, he was an ‘unlikely’ jihadist as he never went to the mosque, drank alcohol, ate pork and took drugs — all banned by Islam. He had a history of petty crime but his name was not in a French database of people suspected of being radicalized militants. Detectives raided his family home in Nice and took his wife into protective custody.

Incidentally, he was stopped by the police just hours before he mowed down scores beneath his vehicle. He told the police that he was delivering ice-cream and allowed to park his vehicle on the waterfront.

“We will not give in to the terrorist threat,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said after a cabinet meeting led by President François Hollande. “The times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism,” he added.

Both French citizens and tourists had massed along the pavement of the main street in Nice, to enjoy July 14 music event as well as fireworks when the disaster struck. Besides mowing down scores, the killer fired indiscriminately at the crowd. Firearms, explosives and grenades were later found in the truck.

Among the victims were many children who had come to watch fireworks with their families. In the footage captured by terrified bystanders the sound of several gunshots being fired could be heard. Shocked witnesses said they watched the gory scene in disbelief and horror. “We saw this truck going along the waterfront, just ploughing through people, bodies falling by the side and people running in all directions,” Tony Molina, who viewed it all from his apartment, told CNN. “There were families just lying down, crying next to these bodies,” added another eyewitness. Journalist Damien Allemand saw the truck tossing bodies “like bowling pins along its path”. In no time, there were bodies everywhere besides limbs and blood on the street. The beach attendants were the first to reach the scene, bringing water for the wounded and towels to spread over the dead.

Hours before the attack, Hollande had said that a state of emergency put in place after the November attack in Paris would end soon. After Thursday’s massacre, he extended the state of emergency for three months. As France announced three days of national mourning, starting on Saturday, world leaders — from Pope Francis and President Obama to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — expressed sympathy and outrage. The Nice attack took place less than a week after the end of the European soccer tournament. France had hosted the tournament, and the entire country had been on high alert. Possibly, there was a lull in the security after the tournament was over.

(Clockwise) Relatives of victims in a huddle; the killer truck; the Nice. waterfront which was the site of the carnage.

Close shave for Indian couple

Nice : Nice is a big draw among honeymooners. Among the lucky ones who escaped the massacre on the city’s waterfront was a vacationing Indian couple. They had left the spot a few minutes before the bloodbath because they were famished and decided to have a quick bite at McDonalds. “We had left the spot just a few minutes before we heard screams and shots,’’ Aishwarya, who married in January, told NDTV on the phone from Nice.

She and hubby Akanksha Singh were among the terrified bystanders who ran for their lives in the stampede that followed the massacre. They stumbled over bodies as they fled and were briefly even separated. “Luckily we found each other. We ran, hid, and then ran again. This went on all night till we were all bundled into a hotel,” says Akanksha. He told the channel that he saw people scurrying into buildings, trying to hide under tables, behind the fridge or anywhere they could. Aishwarya’s mother in Jaipur had a harrowing time as she watched the horror play itself out on TV, frantically trying to call the couple at regular intervals. She was relieved only when they told her that they were safe, inside a hotel. Input NDTV.

Missing baby united thru Facebook

Nice: An eight-month-old baby boy lost in the chaos in the French Riviera city of Nice was tracked down through Facebook. Tiava Banner — who said she was not the mother of the baby — sent out an appeal on Facebook looking for any information on the whereabouts of the child who had been lost in his blue stroller when the rampaging truck sent hundreds fleeing in panic.

The post was shared thousands of times until it was updated with: “Found! Thank you Facebook and all those who helped us.” A member of the family contacted by AFP said: “A young woman found him and took him home with her. She then went online and found the photo of the baby on Facebook.” The woman then contacted the baby’s parents.  Dozens of other people appealed through social media to locate their missing loved ones. Many of the missing persons were children and teenagers. Authorities said that ten children and teenagers were among the dead and around 50 children were in hospital.

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