Closed Terror attack in Nice – the aftermath as it happened

APTOPIX France Truck Attack ©AP

Key developments

  • At least 84 people are dead after a truck ploughed into crowds, who had gathered for Bastille day celebrations, along the seafront in Nice on Thursday night.

  • French President François Hollande described the attack, which killed at least 10 children and left another 50 people in critical condition, as a “despicable act”.

  • The attacker, who was shot and killed by police, was named as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian national with a French visa.

  • There were no claim of responsibility by any terrorist organisation but prime minister Manuel Valls described the attacker as “a terrorist who was certainly linked to radical Islam in one way or another.”

Another horrific attack in France. We will update you here with live developments as we learn more about this assault which has left at least 84 people dead.

Here is how the grim events were featured on the front pages of the French press:

Here is the statement from President Barack Obama last night:

On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and other loved ones of those killed, and we wish a full recovery for the many wounded. I have directed my team to be in touch with French officials, and we have offered any assistance that they may need to investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice. We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack.

On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world, and we know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.

The summit of EU and Asian leaders, including Donald Tusk, the European Council president, and Angela Merkel, German chancellor. Here’s a statement just put out:

1. We, the Heads of State and of Government of Asia and Europe, the President of the European Council, President of the European Commission, and the Secretary General of ASEAN, meeting in Ulaanbaatar on 15-16 July 2016, reiterated our strong unequivocal condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations committed by whomever, wherever and for whatever purposes.

2. Following the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and Asia and in many other places, as we have seen in Nice a few hours before our Summit, we strongly condemn the heinous and cowardly terrorist attacks perpetrated, resulting in the unacceptable loss of innocent lives and countless injuries.

3. We express our deep sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, to the people and to the governments of various countries which have suffered from terrorist attacks resulting in the loss of innocent lives. We reaffirm our commitment to join forces to fight the plague of terrorism and underline the need to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and other obligations under international law.

John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, has added his voice to the condemnation of the attack, calling it “horrendous”, adding:

“On behalf of all Americans, and especially the great many with close ties to France, I offer our deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who were killed and our hopes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured.

“I was proud to stand alongside French leaders earlier today at Bastille Day celebrations in Paris, and the United States will continue to stand firmly with the French people during this time of tragedy. We will provide whatever support is needed.

Our embassy in Paris is making every effort to account for the welfare of U.S. citizens in Nice. Any U.S. citizens in Nice should contact friends and family directly to inform them of their well being.”

Some horrendous accounts by witnesses are emerging. Here are some via the Press Association:

Wassim Bouhel told the French TV channel iTele that the lorry zigzagged across the road. He said: “We almost died. It was like hallucinating … (the lorry) zigzagged – you had no idea where it was going. My wife … a metre away … she was dead. “The lorry ripped through everything … poles, trees. “We have never seen anything like it. Some people were hanging on the door and tried to stop it.”

Witness Lucy Nesbitt-Comaskey told Sky News that the noise of gunfire “sounded like Beirut”. She said: “I said to my friend ‘This doesn’t sound like fireworks, it sounds like Beirut when it’s under fire’. “All of a sudden people were screaming in the streets and running into all the restaurants. “All the restaurants were open and people were coming. “We were just sitting there and everyone came into our restaurant and the owners were saying ‘Please don’t go anywhere, come in, come in’.

Ms Nesbitt-Comaskey said she and her friend were planning to go to the fireworks but stopped to find a toilet and were only a block away when the attack happened. Speaking about what she witnessed, she said: “It was shocking, it was devastating and I cannot believe that I have come over here for a few days and I have got mixed up in something so tragic. “It was just awful.”

Briton Will Shore was in a nearby bar when he heard gunfire and said his initial reaction was to run towards the city centre to see what was happening. He told the BBC: “I kind of ran towards the centre of Nice where there was a rather large jazz festival, and something was going on. I immediately found that military and the local police were just ushering absolutely everybody out of the area. “It was quite chaotic really. There was a lot of people screaming, running around and people were kind of being pushed over, I think, from people just being so frightened about what was going on, especially after hearing the gunshots. “I had to help a couple of people up who were in distress on the floor because everyone was in such a panic.” He added: “You could genuinely see the fear and panic in people’s faces when they were running away. It was a mass amount of people running away. “

Kevin Harris watched the attack unfold from his balcony. He told the BBC: “I saw what appeared to be bodies in the lying in the road. “I spoke to my neighbour, who said the lorry had ploughed through the people. It’s a terrible scene.”

Celia Delcourt, 20, from Nice, was enjoying the Bastille Day celebrations with friends when the attack happened. “When the fireworks ended, we went on to the Promenade des Anglais and we started walking and we heard gunshots and we started running from on the other side,” she told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme. “It was dark. We didn’t know what was happening. We thought it was fireworks from another place. We just started running because everybody was running, without knowing what was happening. “We never thought it will happen in our city, it’s crazy. It feels like it’s a part of our day since it happened in Paris but we never thought it would happen here.” Ms Delcourt added: “Everybody is shocked we have never been in a situation like this so it is unbelievable. It’s shocking.”

Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s interior minister, says France was already on a high level of vigilance in the wake of the Euros, the football championship which ended last weekend, and he had warned his staff in recent days of possible terrorist threats.

“We knew the terrorist threat was extremely high. We’d been saying this for the past days,for the past weeks, since we were under a great amount of pressure because of the Euros which is a huge event. It was hardly over when I told my staff that the vigilance level had to remain absolute because we’re at war with terrorists who want to hurt us at any cost.”

Alain Juppé, the former French prime minister and likely centre-right presidential candidate, has just tweeted his thoughts on the events of last night.

First, he says he is “like all Frenchmen, shaken” by the attacks. “I share the pain of the families and the wounded.”

Then he adds his thoughts on the policy response: “First, understand how such a monstrous act could be committed. Mobilise all means against the war waged against France.”

Finally, he adds a thought on what he’s heard this morning: “The testimonials of our Nice friends show the extent of the horror. Wholeheartedly with them.”

Some more details on the driver of the truck from the FT Paris Bureau Chief Anne-Sylvaine Chassany:

Christian Estrosi, president of the Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur region, said the truck was loaded with grenades and guns. However some of these weapons were fake, according to BFM TV, which cited police sources.

A police source cited by AFP said the truck had been rented a few days earlier. An identity card was found inside, belonging to a 31-year old French citizen born in Tunis, according to BFM TV, citing police sources. The man on the ID card was known to police.

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has issued a statement on the attack:

On such a special day for our country, when we celebrated our national holiday, France has been hit afresh at its heart.

Through Nice, its residents, the tourists of the famous Promenade des Anglais, it is France that has been directly targeted yesterday evening by Islamic terrorism.

Like all French people, we are struck by an immense emotion and fear in the face of this mass killing, which has touched whole families and their children and which has an entire nation, a whole region, a city and its residents in mourning.

My thoughts go firstly to the numerous victims, so cowardly murdered, and to their loved ones, they also go to the injured but also to our law enforcement and our emergency services and all the elected representatives that have been active during this long night.

In the face of barbaric terrorism and individuals who are prepared to do anything to hit France and the people of France, it is critical to prolong the state of emergency and to use it liberally to assure the security and the protection of the French people. We are engaged in a war that will go on, against a threat which keeps renewing itself.

The adaption and continuous strengthening of our capabilities to combat islamic terrorism remains an absolute priority. It will be necessary to keep up, for a long time, a firmness and exceptional vigilance. Nothing can be as it was before.

The attack in Nice is by far the worst incident on record in which a car or truck has been used as a deadly weapon — a tactic authorities have warned about for several years, reports NBC. It has published a short history here on the use of vehicles in terrorist attacks.

It says as early as December 2010, the US Department of Homeland Security issued an alert to law enforcement warning that “such attacks could be used to target locations where large numbers of people congregate, including sporting events, entertainment venues, or shopping centres.”

Jean-Marc Ayrault, the French foreign minister, was doorstepped by journalists as he attended the 11th Asem Asia-Europe summit in Ulaanbataar, in Mongolia. He said he was “touched” by the expressions of solidarity offered by other governments but said the fight against terrorism had to be stepped up.

“We are very touched by the reaction of each country, each head of state, or chief of government or foreign minister.”

He said all had offered “compassion and solidarity”, which was reflected in the declaration at the ASEM meeting.

But he said there was a need for more cooperation and greater engagement against terrorism and said it was “neccesary” to increase the fight against the extremists.

John Kerry has expanded on earlier comments on the Nice attack. The US Secretary of State said the assault showed the need to speed up international efforts to tackle terrorism, especially in Syria. From Reuters:

Referring to what he described as the “incredible carnage” in Nice, Kerry said nowhere was there a greater hotbed for terrorists than in Syria.

“I think people all over the world are looking to us and waiting for us to find a faster and more tangible way for them feeling that everything that is possible has been done to end this terrorist scourge and to unite the world in the most comprehensive efforts possible to fight back against their nihilistic and depraved approach to life and death,” Kerry said as he began talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (picture above with Mr Kerry).

The Tour de France cycling competition has staged a minute’s silence here

This is an incredibly sad image of the aftermath of the attack – via a retweet by Buzzfeed Middle East correspondent Borzou Daragahi – “They took away the kid’s body but left behind her doll.”

Nice-Matin, the regional newspaper for southern France, is reporting that 54 children are in hospital following the attack:

Boris Johnson, the newly appointed UK foreign secretary, has been doorstepped by Sky this morning. Here are his first comments on the Nice attack:

Obviously, our thoughts are very much with the people of France and Nice. It’s an absolutely appalling incident. I think there will be ministerial meetings later on today to discuss the implications for this country, if any.

I don’t at this time know of any read across or any implications for UK. Clearly this represents a continuing threat, if this is a terrorist incident as it appears to be, this represents a continuing threat to us and the whole of Europe and we must meet it together.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has cut short a visit to Mongolia to return to Paris because of the Nice attack. The foreign ministry’s deputy spokesman, Vincent Floreani, says Ayrault was in Mongolia for the Asian ASEAN summit and is expected back late Friday.

An expression of solidarity with France and Nice from Australia – the French flag is being flown above Sydney harbour bridge

Nice-Matin, the regional newspaper, reports that a search is still ongoing at the home of the truck driver in the Abattoirs area of the city.

After an emergency meeting, French prime minister Manuel Valls has confirmed parliament would vote to extend the state of emergency next week and said the president had decided there will be three national days of mourning until Monday.

Mr Valls added: “We are facing a war that terrorism has started against us. The objective of the terrorists is to instil fear and panic.

“Unfortunately I had the occasion to warn previously that lives would be lost…We live in a changed era. France will have to live with terrorism. But France is great democracy that will not be destabilised.”

While we do not so far know the attacker’s motives, the journalist David Thomson — who works for the radio station RFI and has written a book on French jihadists — notes that Nice is one of the French cities worst affected by Islamist extremism.

He tweets: “Take notice: Nice, one of the cities most affected by the jihadist phenomenon. More than a hundred people from Nice have gone to Syria.”

Foreign embassies in France are publishing details on what their citizens should do if they have been affected by the attack.

The US Embassy in France says: “We are working with local authorities to determine if any US citizens were injured in the event. We urge U.S. citizens in Nice to contact family members and loved ones to notify them that you are safe, avoid the area, to monitor local press for updates, and to exercise caution if you are in the vicinity.”

The UK government revised its travel advice for British nationals in France:

“We are in touch with the local authorities and seeking more information following an apparent attack on Bastille Day celebration in Nice. If you are in the area follow the instructions of the French authorities who are at present advising people to stay indoors at this time.”

Here is our updated map showing the location of the attack:

A lawmaker for the region that includes Nice said some people tried to escape the attack by going into the sea, giving new details of the horrifying last minutes of the attack in Nice. From AP:

“A person jumped onto the truck to try to stop it,” Eric Ciotti told Europe 1 radio. “It’s at that moment that the police were able to neutralize this terrorist. I won’t forget the look of this policewoman who intercepted the killer.”

Christian Estrosi, the regional president in Nice, said some of the city’s 1,200 security cameras had pinpointed the moment the attacker boarded the truck, far from the seaside “in the hills of Nice” and could follow his path to the promenade. Estrosi called for the investigation to focus on any accomplices.

“Attacks aren’t prepared alone. Attacks are prepared with accomplices,” Estrosi said. “There is a chain of complicity. I expect it to be unveiled, discovered and kept up to date.”

Estrosi said more than 10 children were among the dead and he said France needed to think carefully about its next response to attacks, as previous responses were not enough to protect the people.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced he will be “reviewing our own safety measures” in light of the attack in Nice.

Belgian authorities will ramp up security during its national celebrations next week in the wake of the Nice attacks, according to Belgian prime minister Charles Michel.

The prime minister said that Belgium was will take “additional measures” to prevent such an attack on Belgium’s national holiday on 21 July, reports the FT’s Duncan Robinson. Belgian authorities had already considered the possibility of a Nice-style attack.

Belgium maintained its threat level at three – out of a possible four – pointing out that authorities had detected no specific threat against the country. “Zero risk does not exist,” cautioned Mr Michel.

Belgium’s handling of its internal security has come under fire after a series of attacks in the country and after Belgian citizens were involved in the recent Paris attack. The attacker “appears to have no formal link with Belgium” said Mr Michel. Mr Michel was not able to confirm whether there were any Belgian victims.

The Paris prosecutor, Francois Molins, will hold a press conference in Nice about the attacks at 1700 local time (1500 GMT), AFP reports.

French public radio “France Info” is reporting that “several police operations” are taking place in Nice at the moment. They say one house is being searched that “could be” the home of the suspected attacker. They do not name details of the operation, to avoid obstructing the investigation, but they say the neighbourhood where the search takes place is “not considered a problem district”

Although there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack David Gardner, the FT’s International Affairs Editor, warns that despite losses by Isis of both territory and fighters in Syria and Iraq, European cities are still under threat:

Terror attacks are likely to continue even as Isis territory shrinks — and French and other European cities will remain in the front line. Intelligence-sharing within Europe is still woefully inadequate, despite the gaping holes revealed by February’s Brussels attack, and may face further barriers as the EU’s model of co-operation comes under strain from for example Britain’s decision to leave the bloc.

The Nice killer, in any case, while reportedly known to French police for petty crime, was not on the intelligence radar. Whatever emerges from the investigation into this particular atrocity, as a politico-military phenomenon with a long and flexible reach, Isis is far from being on the run.

More here.

People searching for loved ones in Nice are using the hashtag #RechercheNice — Nice search — to share images and details. Some very sad tweets emerging as people hunt for friends and family.

One young woman tweets: “We are looking for my uncle, Jacques Allienne. We don’t know where he is, and he can’t be reached.”

An American father and son were among those killed in the terror attack in Nice, France Thursday night, a family spokesperson told CBS News.

Sean Copeland, 51, and his son, Brodie, 11, were vacationing with their family, said Jess Davis, who is friends with Meagan Copeland, Sean Copeland’s daughter.

More here.

This is what it is like in Nice now in the aftermath of the attack – a photo from Reuters of a man walking near debris left after the atrocity.

Flags flying at half-mast along the promenade at Nice in this video:

Theresa May, the prime minister, said “the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with France today as we have done so often in the past.”
She said the British ambassador to Paris and consular staff were travelling to Nice to offer assistance.
She said she had asked her deputy security advisor to chair a meeting of Cobra – the cabinet office briefing room meeting on security matters – “to review what we know and what we can do to help.”

“We must work with France and our partners around the world to stand up for our values and our freedom.”

She said the UK “threat level is already at severe. That means a terrorist attack is highly likely.”
But she said the security services and police were “ever vigilant”.

Some thoughts on the Nice attack from the FT’s investigations correspondent Tom Burgis in Paris:

As ever in the immediate aftermath of mass attacks like the one in Nice last night, the first thing to say is that the picture of the killer will never be complete. But there are several pressing questions.

Early – and unconfirmed – reports say the driver of the truck that claimed at least 84 lives was a Tunisian-born French citizen in his early 30s.

The immediate assessment that the security services in France and beyond will want to make is whether he acted alone.

The recent broad trend for jihadist attacks in the west (and remember, we had not yet a claim of responsibility from either the perpetrator or any group) has been for “lone wolf” operations in the US while organised terrorist cells strike in Europe.

The perpetrators of November’s attacks on rock fans and diners in Paris and March’s on the airport and metro in Brussels were part of a large network of between 30 and 90 people. Many had travelled to Syria to train in Isis’s “caliphate”.

So far we do not know whether the Nice killer belonged to such a network. Perhaps he is closer in profile to Omar Mateen, who killed 49 at a gay club in Orlando last month. Mateen appears to have been radicalised online and to have had no actual contact with Isis – the kind of self-starting killer that the group has encouraged in recent propaganda.

Initial French media reports say the Nice killer had a record for petty crime but was not known to the intelligence services. If he has served time, that will renew questions about the role of French prisons – in which Muslims are disproportionately incarcerated – as breeding grounds for violent Islamic extremism. It was in a Paris prison that the seeds of the Charle Hebdo and Jewish bakery attacks last year were sown.

A final thought. As we reported this week, some of the most experienced experts on terrorism have been cautioning that trying to establish a unique “profile” for terrorists is futile and even risks distorting the political response to attacks. As we begin once again to try to extrapolate significance from scraps of a dead killer’s biography, it is worth bearing that in mind.

President Francois Hollande has arrived in Nice, greeted at the airport by his interior minister and security officials. The president, accompanied by Manuel Valls, the prime minister, was then shown on French television arriving at Nice’s Pasteur Hospital, which has been treating most of the injured.

The FT’s Paris bureau chief Anne-Sylvaine Chassany has had confirmation from a source close to the investigation that the name of attacker was Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel – the name first reported by French regional newspaper Nice-Matin.

The person close to the investigation told her that the attacker was Tunisian and had a French visa. He resided in Nice.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has expressed support for France, following the Nice terror attack that has killed at least 84 people. Here is a video of him speaking in Mongolia at the 11th ASEM summit.

Political risk consultancy Eurasia has warned that France will remain prime target for terrorist attacks ahead of the country’s presidential elections next year.

France has now been attacked on its National Day at a family-oriented event. The persistent targeting of the country suggests that terrorists are as sensitive to social and political fragilities as they are to symbolic location and timing.

Here are some of Eurasia’s other thoughts on the political fallout in France:

Yesterday’s attack in Nice, joining a series of attacks in France, will boost the National Front; Marine Le Pen still remains highly unlikely to win Presidential elections in May 2017.

President Hollande will use events in Nice to advance his post-BREXIT initiative on collective European defence.

The increasingly politicised debate on anti-terrorism measures could help Sarkozy beat Juppé in the center-right primaries in November.

Eurasia adds:

At record highs in the polls (above 25%), Marine Le Pen failed to benefit from either large scale attack in 2015. Some ill-considered comments and a lot of whingeing about not feeling welcome at the historic 11 January “Republican march” actually harmed her as Hollande’s popularity soared in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo and Kosher supermarket attacks. Though somewhat more measured in November, her comments were still dismissed as political recuperation by most of the electorate.

Since early 2016, Le Pen has adopted a much more discrete media strategy, avoiding controversy, and touring the country to bolster FN grassroots movements. Her popularity has remained high. She will therefore avoid controversy over the next few days, probably waiting until the centrist parties (which she likes to dismiss as part of the same cosy consensus) start bickering. After three attacks, as French voters begin to lose faith in the government’s capacity to do anything about the IS threat, Le Pen will be in a good position to articulate how much more efficient the FN’s “common sense” policies could be in combatting terrorism. These are likely to include illiberal policies such as the systematic detention of anyone suspected of terrorist links and closer partnership with Russia (and the Assad regime).

rance has now been attacked on its National Day at a family-oriented event. The persistent targeting of the country suggests that terrorists are as sensitive to social and political fragilities as they are to symbolic location and timing. Anti-politics sentiment and the rise of the far-right National Front (FN) have plagued Hollande’s term. The FN reacted to previous attacks clumsily but it is likelier to benefit this time

Though quite likely to top the first round of the Presidential Elections next year, Le Pen will still struggle to win the second-round run off despite the regularity of terrorist attacks.

France’s national police force has tweeted that the “delicate task” of identifying the dead has begun, run by a special unit specifically tasked with “disaster victim identifications”.

Here is a video of French President François Hollande talking about the attack and the plans to extend the country’s state of emergency:

The FT’s political correspondent Kate Allen has a bit more on the UK government’s response to the Nice attacks following a meeting of the Cobra, the emergency committee:

The prime minister called a Cobra meeting which was chaired by deputy National Security adviser Paddy McGuinness. It was attended by representatives of the intelligence agencies, the Foreign Office, Home Office, defence and transport departments, Metropolitan Police, and staff from Britain’s Paris embassy.

A consular team of 8 has been sent to Nice, with a further 4 people on the way. Britain’s ambassador to France has also gone to Nice. They are working to establish how many Britons are affected. They are aware of a small number of injured at the moment.

The meeting talked about what the UK can do to support the French government, and offered investigative support. The UK threat level remains severe. Police are reviewing security around large public events that are set to take place in the next 7 days.

French President François Hollande is pictured arriving at the regional government headquarters in Nice about an hour ago:

This is a striking interactive by the New York Times showing the progress of truck driven by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel as he ploughed through the Nice crowds.

More analysis from the Soufran Consultancy, a security intelligence group. It makes for grim reading:

• The Nice attack is one of the deadliest non-explosive vehicle attacks ever, and fits the recent trend of shocking and simplistic attacks.

• The weaponisation of everyday life is a hallmark of terrorism and presents insurmountable challenges for security officials.

In the aftermath of Nice, more cities will review the need for even more security measures embedded into the fabric of normal life, such as barriers and bollards to block vehicle traffic from pedestrian zones. The nature of these inspired attacks, however, has broadened the target zone to encompass all public and private spaces. Just as terror alerts advising the public to be on the lookout for ’something’ are ineffective and possibly counter-productive, efforts to harden cities against these attacks and assaults are problematic because the venue and method of attacks are limitless.

The societal impact of attacks such as the one in Nice is immense. French officials had only just decided this week to lift the country’s state of emergency, imposed after last November’s Paris attacks. Persistent states of emergency are unhealthy for democratic societies, yet the nature of the threat yields a slippery slope of well-intended but heavy-handed policies. The French government has now announced that it will extend the current state of emergency for another three months. The uncomfortable reality is that few counterterrorism laws or measures can address the weaponisation of everyday life due to the unrelenting call to terror.

The French flag flies at half-mast over Downing Street in a show of solidarity by the British government and a mark of respect to the victims of the attacks in Nice on Thursday night

There were unconfirmed reports earlier of a controlled explosion being carried out near the suspect’s home. Authorites have said at least 50 people were injured with 18 in a critical condition

French golfer Clement Sordet, who lives in Nice but has been playing in the British Open this morning, has been talking about the attack on the town. Here is a report from AP:

French golfer Clement Sordet woke up at 4 am on Friday to text messages asking if he was safe following the tragedy in his hometown of Nice. In fact, Sordet was on the west coast of Scotland for the British Open at Royal Troon, but his girlfriend, Marie, and her family were in Nice and celebrating Bastille Day when a truck plowed through revelers gathered along the Riviera city’s waterfront promenade. At least 84 people were killed.

Sordet said the tragedy happened about 500 meters from where he lives.

“It’s a really sad situation,” the 23-year-old Sordet said. “I give my thoughts to all the families and to the people who died.”

He said his girlfriend, her family and his friends are safe. Sordet used a blue marker to write the words “Pray For Nice” on his cap for his second round. He was in the first group out for the second round at 6:35 a.m., and shot 4-over 75.

“I tried not to think about, that’s why I had this on my hat,” Sordet said, pointing to the side of his cap. “I just tried to enjoy the last day at the Open.”

Sordet was born in Charbonnieres-les-Bains, near Lyon. He moved to Nice, where his girlfriend is from. He won’t be back there for another two weeks because he is about to play in back-to-back tournaments.

Sordet said he wouldn’t be nervous going back to France. The attack in Nice has rocked a nation still dealing with the aftermath of two attacks in Paris last year that killed a total of 147 people.

“I’m really proud to be French,” he said. “We need to support each other.”

Rukmini Callimachi, correspondent for The New York Time who focuses on al-Qaeda and ISIS, points out there is still no claim of responsibility for the attack from Isis or another group.

Reuters is citing Tunisian security sources as saying the attacker came from the town of Msaken which he last visited four years ago.
The man who was identified by French police sources as 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was not known by the Tunisian authorities to hold radical or Islamist views, Reuters reports.
Bouhlel was married with three children, they said. The sources did not say when he had last been resident in Tunisia. Msaken is about 10 km (six miles) outside the coastal city of Sousse.

AP is reporting Nice airport has been evacuated:

Here’s a locator map of Msaken, the town in Tunisia where Reuters is reporting the Nice attacker comes from (although he was reportedly last there four years ago)

Interesting series of tweets on the apparent differing of attitudes of Isis and Al Qaeda on attacks similar to the one last night in Nice from Thomas Joscelyn of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

He says in the past Al Qaeda and the Osama bin Laden criticised the “mowing down” of people in attacks after the jihadi magazine Inspire ran a front page cover illustration of the “ultimate mowing machine” in 2010.

Bin Laden believed such attacks could indiscriminately kill Muslims. Note one of 1st victims of yesterday’s attack was a Muslim woman.

Charlie Hebdo attack in last year is a good example of this. #AlQaeda deliberately focused on those accused of offending Islam. Targeted.

However, he says ISIS is less sensitive to this with spokesman Adnani others have encouraging followers to run over victims.

We still don’t know precise details about attacker yesterday in #Nice. But this distinction in targeting by #IS & #AlQaeda came to mind.

In addition, leading #AlQaeda figures have denounced recent attacks in #Istanbul & #Medina because Muslims were killed.

Again, I have to caution that we know little at this point about the attacker.

See more on twitter at @thomasjoscelyn.

It looks like the alert at Nice airport is over. It was caused by a suspicious package but people are being allowed to return, according to Thomas Daigle, a reporter with CBC News:

Berlin mayor Michael Müller has confirmed that Berliners are among the people killed in the Nice outrage, reports the FT’s Stefan Wagstyl. German media have reported that the victims are two female school students and their female teacher from the Paula Furst School in Charlottenburg, in west Berlin, who were on a school trip.

There is a report emerging of an heroic attempt by someone on a motorcycle trying to stop the truck, which appears to have ended in tragedy:

Richard Gutjahr, a German journalist and blogger, told the BBC he saw the lorry approaching the crowd in a street that had been cleared of traffic.

“All of a sudden, with all the people, all the families celebrating, this truck was approaching and it was approaching very slowly so it didn’t really rush but you could ask yourself: ‘What is a truck doing in the heart of this?’”

He said a motorcyclist tried to stop the lorry before being run over and then two police officers fired shots at the driver.

“From that moment on the rampage took place. The vehicle accelerated and ran in a very odd way right in the middle of the crowd,” he said.

“The panic really kicked in when the gunshots were shot and it went on for 15-20 seconds of gunfire from several guns. That was the moment when everyone understood that it was not just an ordinary accident.”

The US and Russia have both called for unity to fight the “scourge of terrorism” as officials met in Moscow to try to end the conflict in Syria, which John Kerry, US secretary of state, has called “an incubator of terrorism” .

At a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Mr Kerry said “people all over the world” are looking to the US and Russia to find “a faster and more tangible way” to end the scourge of terrorism.

Before officials stood for a minute’s silence for the victims of the Nice attack, Mr Kerry told the joint Russia-US meeting:

“People all over the world are looking to us and waiting for us to find a faster and more tangible way of them feeling that everything that is possible is being done to end this terrorist scourge and to unite the world in the most comprehensive efforts possible to fight back against their nihilistic and depraved approach to life and death”.

Separately On the Kremlin website, Vladimir Putin said:

Russia knows terror and the threats it poses to all of us. Our people have been struck by it more than once. We send sympathy and solidarity to the people of France.

The Russian president said:

This crime in Nice… was ruthless and cynical. We can defeat terrorism only through unity.

On Thursday night Kerry met Putin in a bid to salvage cease-fire efforts in Syria by offering Russia greater U.S. military cooperation if Moscow agrees to ground the Syrian regime’s air force.

Here is an official Kremlin tweet:

Президент России @KremlinRussia Президент поручил @MID_RF проверить информацию о наличии россиян среди пострадавших в Ницце и оказывать им всю необходимую помощь

This translates as: The Russian president has instructed its Foreign Ministry to verify reports of Russians among the injured in Nice and to give all necessary support .

Translation by FT’s Katie Martin

It looks like there are many nationalities among the victims – Moroccans, US, Germans as well as French citizens – are confirmed among the dead. Nice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.

French President François Hollande is currently giving a live press conference who warns that the country faces a long battle. More from my colleague John Murray Brown on what he said in a few moments.

French magazine l’Express, cites the 28-year-old Hamza, who has lost his mother in yesterday’s attack: “She was wearing the veil and practiced a moderate Islam. A true islam. Not the one of the terrorists.” Hamza says his mother was watching the fireworks display with her nephews and nieces when she was hit by the truck. “My brother tried to revive her. But she died on the spot the doctors told us.”

President François Hollande has described the attack in Nice as a “despicable act” and said he and his ministers were visiting the city today to “express our compassion for the victims and their families”.

Addressing reporters flanked by his prime minister Manuel Valls, the President said:

“Why Nice? Because Nice is known all over the world, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, the planet. Why 14 July ? Because it is a celebration of liberty, and to harm France. This is why this individual commited this terrorist attack.

As I am addressing you, 84 persons have died and there are 50 others who are receiving emergency treatment. They’re between life and death.”

He said there were “children who came to watch the fireworks with their families so that they have some happiness and joy.

He said they had been “hated and killed for the simple reason to satisfy the cruelty of one individual, or possibly of a group.”

Moving video of the French national anthem La Marseillaise being sung at France’s Consulate in NYC after #Nice attack

At least 10 children are thought to have died and more than 50 have been treated by one hospital alone. One eyewitness talking to the BBC earlier said the driver deliberately drove the truck at a carousel full of young children.

President Hollande also made clear in his comments earlier there were a number of foreigners caught up in the attack:

“Among the victims there are French citizens as well as foreigners who came from all over the world, from all continents.”

Police earlier raided the apartment of the suspect in Abattoirs area of Nice not far from the railway station

The reaction from Poland’s right-wing government to the attacks has been to blame multiculturalism, according to our colleagues on FastFT:

Poland’s interior minister Mariusz Blaszczak has blamed Europe’s “policy of multi-culturalism and political correctness” for the attack in Nice.

“Have we not learned lessons from previous attacks in Paris and Brussels?… This is a consequence of the policy of multi-cultural politics, and political correctness,” he told Polsat News.

“There are no prospects to master this situation, you can not see them. Europe will soon be lost to political correctness,” said Mr Blaszczak, whose right-wing government led by the nationalist, populist Law and Justice party has refused to accept refugees under an EU relocation scheme and has sought to pass sweeping new anti-terror laws that critics say threaten civil liberties and unfairly target foreign citizens.

Polish prime minister Beata Szydlo condemned the attacks and reiterated Poland’s support to stop terrorism in Europe.

“Once again I want to say that today is the moment, the time in which we should pray for those who died and think about those who have been orphaned, and all be together,” she said.

The FT’s Arthur Beesley, who has just arrived in Paris, has a bit more information about the number of people who were gathered on or near the famous Promenade des Anglais in last night when the truck attack happened:

The authorities in Nice have said 30,000 people were in the city for the fireworks display.

French president Francois Hollande said in an earlier televised address from the city that 50 people remain in a critical condition in hospital “between life and death”.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the French far right National Front party, issued a statement on Friday urging the country to ‘declare war’ against against ‘the scourge of Islamist fundamentalism’ following the horrific attack in Nice, report FastFT’s Pan Yuk.

Here’s a translation of the full statement:

I offer condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the attack that hit Nice. My support also goes to those, especially children, who, injured or spared, have lived through horror and will be lastingly marked.

July 14th – the day we celebrate the country, its freedom, a day of celebration for the French people – has been turned into a day of terror, of immense pain.

We must not let terror attacks come one after another and count more deaths without taking action.

The war against the scourge of Islamist fundamentalism has not begun; it’s now urgent to declare it. We will truly engage in it by putting in place a series of measures that I have already outlined and which I’ll come back to, that is aimed at tackling the roots of the phenomenon.

To shock and compassion, we must now add action, the necessary means of prevention and repression, and the total determination to eradicate the scourge of Islamist fundamentalism. It’s on this day, I will put all of my energy toward the profound desires of the bruised people of France, so that they are heard and that the battles are waged.

A photo of a raid that took place around 13.15pm on the Route de Turin in the Abattoirs district of Nice, where yesterday’s attacker is believed to have lived. The photo was given to the FT’s Jim Brunsden by a local resident. The building raided was number 62.

Isabelle, a teleworker who has lived here for 5 years, said police “formed two lines, blocking the road in both directions.”

“It didn’t think this could happen here…It’s a neighbourhood where you have small thefts, small things. But it’s not a neighbourhood like what we’ve seen in Belgium”.

France has requested that the EU’s foreign ministers discuss extra counter-terror measures during a planned meeting on Monday, reports FT’s Duncan Robinson.

More from the FT’s Jim Brunsden at the scene of the raid on the Nice attacker’s apartment:

A neighbour on another floor told me the raid took place on the 1st floor. He said he didn’t know well the person who lived in the flat that was raided but says it is possible that it was the attacker.

He says the man was “very closed”, “dressed like you or I.”

“I said bonjour one time and he didn’t reply. I tried on a second occasion. After that I gave up.”

I asked him if he was surprised by the attack and he said. “Are you surprised?…I’m not surprised, the world is mad.”

A photo from the FT’s Jim Brunsden of the floor of the apartment block where Nice attacker is believed to have lived:

Vladmir Putin has issued a statement on the Nice attack with the Russian president expressing solidarity with his French counterpart.

Last night we all heard about another outrageous terrorist attack in France. I understand that the President and many of France’s leaders are too busy now for telephone conversations. Therefore, I would like to address Mr President publicly.

Dear Francois,

Russia knows terrorism and the threat it creates for us all. Our people have had to deal with similar tragedies many times, and we are deeply distressed at the news. We would like to express our sympathy and solidarity with the French nation.

The criminal act in Nice that resulted in death and injury, including among Russian citizens, was committed with extreme atrocity and cynicism.

I would like to stress again that only through a united effort can we defeat terrorism.

Mr President, I kindly ask you to pass on my words of most sincere sympathy and support to the victims’ families and friends, and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured.

President Obama is expected to address Nice attack during previously scheduled reception at 3:10pm ET, ABC News reports

The FT’s Arthur Beesley in Paris reports that the gloves have come off in the political arena over the Nice attacks – a rift that was not evident previously:

President Francois Hollande’s socialist administration is facing a political offensive from the opposition Republicans party over the Nice attack.

The development marks a change of approach by the centre-right, which largely held its silence in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attack last November.

Alain Juppé, who is campaigning to contest the presidential election next year, issued a statement at noon in Paris saying the Nice killing had been carried in lines with methods “described and encouraged by the terrorists themselves for years”.

Mr Juppé (pictured below) said counter-terrorism activities must to be stepped up to face a multi-faceted threat. He called for the immediate implementation of proposals to deepen cooperation between the police forces and intelligence agencies. On radio later, he said the “drama” in Nice would not have happened if “all measures” were taken.

Mr Juppé was not alone among Republicans. Pierre Lellouche, the party spokesman on international affairs, declared he would not vote for the extension of the state of emergency. “The parliamentary inquiry into the attacks of 2015, in which I participated, showed the flaws in our intelligence systems. We have seen with what contempt the executive had welcomed our proposals. Again it is time to act.”

More photos by the FT’s Jim Brunsden at the scene of the raid on the apartment where it is believed the Nice attacker lived including a bullet casing found at the scene:

More signs that Francois Hollande is facing a backlash over the Nice attack. From AP:

French President Francois Hollande and Provence Alpes d’Azur regional president Christian Estrosi were booed by an assembled crowd as their convoy drove through Nice following the French leader’s televised address.

Christelle Hespel says that she’s disgusted by both men — saying they’d failed to protect her city. The 38-year-old said: “Mr. Estrosi is from the right. Mr. Hollande from the left. I say it and I say it loud, these two are killers.”

Hollande’s government, whose popularity has hit record lows, has recently been buffeted by allegations that France’s intelligence services have failed to get a handle on the country’s jihadi threat.

Here is a Instagram video purporting to show angry chanting at Hollande in Nice today.

The Paris prosecutor has just held a brief press conference and given a bit of information about the attack.

He confirms the name of the attacker as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian national with the right to reside in France.

He says 84 people were killed, including 10 children, 202 people were wounded in the attack, of which 25 people are on life support and 52 in critical condition.

He says no-one has claimed responsibility but it bears all the hallmarks of a terrorist organisation being behind it.

Sky have a picture of the attacker – Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhle:

More information from French prosecutor François Molins

He said Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was married with children and that his ex-wife is now in custody after being arrested this morning. He confirmed the attacker was known to the police for minor offenses and had been sentenced for an offence involving a violent altercation with a motorist in March this year.

Mr Molins said there was “no evidence of radicalisation” but he said the authorities would continue to look into whether he had any accomplices and whether he had any links to Islamic extremists.

He said the 19-tonne truck was rented on 11 July and should have been returned on Wednesday. It was empty apart form a bicycle which the attacker had used when he went to pick it up before the attack.

He said the police had found a 7,65mm automatic pistol in the cab of the truck, along with two replica assault rifles and a replica pistol along with ammunition and one live grenade. He said a mobile phone and some documents were also found and were still being examined.

He said Bouhlel was 31 and worked as a chauffeur and delivery driver.

An eyewitness account of the attack last night in Nice from Johnny Prevost, 41, who runs Bellota House bakery and restaurant on Promenade des Anglais (pictured above). He told the FT’s Serena Tarling:

There were lots of people dining at my restaurant when the truck began driving down and we saw people were running in panic and trying to find refuge. People came in to hide themselves away and broke the front window of my shop to escape. I wanted to protect them.”

I rang the police and ran to try and help people. One reached their hand out to me but I am not a doctor so I was unable to help. There was a lot of panic. I saw seven corpses on the pavement just metres away from my cafe. But there were several bodies left alone on the road. The whole thing lasted only a few minutes. It was hard to comprehend what was happening at the time.

Riders in the Tour de France laid flowers after observing a minute of silence to commemorate the victims of the Nice truck attack on the podium the thirteenth stage of the cycling race.

The Houses of Parliament will be lit up in the colours of the French flag later tonight

Flags currently at half-mast

Here’s another Tweet from Richard Gutjahr, the German journalist and blogger, who filmed part of the attack when several policemen and a motorcyclist tried to stop the truck, showing it being towed away

In Berlin the flags are also at half-mast in front of the Reichtags building that houses the German parliament. Earlier the mayor of the city confirmed that Berliners were among the victims:

The FT’s Jim Brunsden who is in Nice has just confirmed with a neigbour, who identified herself as Jasmine, that the man on the French residency permit (below), which names him as Mohamed Salmene Lahouaiej Bouhlel, lived in the flat that was raided by police this morning

A memorial service for the victims of the attack has begun at the Sainte Réparate cathedral in Nice:

We have a bit more from the press conference earlier held by François Molins, the Paris prosecutor, via the FT’s Arthur Beesley, about the movements of Bouhlel before the attack.

He said Bouhlel rented the truck, a refrigerated lorry, on Monday and had been due to return it on Wednesday. CCTV footage showed the vehicle was parked in the Auriol district of the city parked since Wednesday.

Bouhlel was observed on the CCTV arriving alone at the truck by bicycle at 9.34pm on Thursday night, ahead of the 10pm fireworks display which had attracted 30,000 people to the city. Video shows the truck leaving towards the west of the city.

The next sighting was recorded in the Manion district at 10.30pm before the truck entered Promenade des Anglais, which was closed to traffic for the fireworks display.

Bouhlel proceeded to swerve through the crowds for 2kms and exchanged shots with three police officers opposite the Negresco hotel. He continued driving for another 300 metres before stopping near the Palais de la Méditerranée hotel. Bouhlel was found dead in the passenger seat.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls (on the left in the photo below) has just been speaking on French TV and has said the attacker was one way or another linked to lslamist circles – we’ve have more from the presser soon from my colleague Rick Mertens

Two of my colleagues – Tom Burgis and Jim Brunsden – are in France and have been pulling together what we know about the Nice attacker:

Read the piece here

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was talking about 20 minutes ago on public broadcaster France 2 and said that the Nice attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was “a terrorist who was certainly linked to radical Islam in one way or another.” But the PM added that the investigation still needed to establish what exact links Bouhlel had to terrorist organisations.

The Prime Minister also said France needs to be prepared for “more victims of terrorism” in the future and that France will reinforce its war efforts against Isis in Iraq and Syria: “This is a lengthy war abroad, but also at home.” He insisted that the French public needs to be ready to stand up to terrorism and resist, but Valls said he’s convinced that France will eventually win the war against terrorism.

The assertions by the French prime minister about the likely links of the attacker to radical Islam are no doubt in part due to the fact that behind the city’s veneer of luxury, Nice is in fact a hot-bed of Jihadi recruitment.

Read the full story here by the FT’s Paris bureau chief Anne-Sylvaine Chassany about how a recruiter-in-chief for Al-Qaeda has targeted the city’s large Tunisian community since 2012

US President Barack Obama is now talking about the Nice attacks and he says “we pledge to stand with our French friends” and describes the attack as “a threat to all of us”. He reels of a list of attacks across the world in recent months and promises to “defeat these ideologies” that warp Islam.

We will win by staying true to our values . . . like the freedom of religion, of speech . . . . the freedoms that those in Nice were celebrating yesterday on Bastille Day.

And here is the FT View on the atrocity in Nice on Thursday night

More analysis from Sam Jones, the FT’s defence and security correspondent, and Erika Solomon, the FT’s Middle East correspondent, asking why France has emerged as a focus for Islamist terror.

Here’s an excerpt:

One reason is what François Hollande, France’s president, describes as the state of war between his country and Isis. France is the European nation that has most vigorously supported military action against Isis; and, as Isis’s self proclaimed caliphate is pushed back in Syria and Iraq, striking back against such “far enemies” has become ever more central to its strategy.

Click here for the full story.

We are now going to end our live coverage of the aftermath of the horrific attack in Nice that left at least 84 people dead and 202 people wounded, including 25 on life support and 52 in a critical condition. This is the third major atrocity in France in just over 18 months.

The French authorities have named the suspected attacker as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian national with a French resident’s visa. Although there has been no claim of responsibility, the French prime minister Manuel Valls said a little earlier that the man was “a terrorist who was certainly linked to radical Islam in one way or another.”

The FT’s Jim Brunsden managed to get inside the apartment building where the alleged attacker lived. Here is his short video report:

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