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Dozens killed, injured in Nice, France after truck plows into crowd

(Twitter Photo/@Nice_Matin)

Dozens of people were killed and injured Thursday after a large truck plowed into a crowd shortly after the Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France.

By early Friday the death toll had risen to 84 and 50 others, French President Francois Hollande said, were in critical condition.

“All of France is under threat from Islamist terrorism,” Hollande said.

Police identified the attacker as Mohamed Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Nice resident, and said he had drawn a gun on them. The truck’s front windshield was riddled with bullets.

At least two killed were American — a man and his young son who were on vacation.

Sylvie Toffin, a press officer with the local prefecture, said it was no accident. “It’s an attack,” she told the Associated Press.

Christian Estrosi, president of the Nice region, told BFM TV that “the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him.”

Estrosi said the truck was driven by someone who appeared to have “completely premeditated behavior.” He added that “the truck was loaded with arms, loaded with grenades.”

France 24, an English news service based in France, said the truck drove through a group of people that were standing along the city’s popular Promenade des Anglais about 10 p.m. local time.

Wassim Bouhlel, a Nice native who spoke to the Associated Press near Nice’s Promenade du Paillon, said that he saw a truck drive into the crowd and then witnessed the man emerge with a gun and start shooting.

“There was carnage on the road,” Bouhlel said. “Bodies everywhere.”

Nice-Matin reported that police shot and killed the driver of the truck.

An image tweet out by a local newspaper showed the truck with a bullet-riddled windshield

Social media posts showed people running from the area.

Writing online, Nice Matin journalist Damien Allemand who was at the waterside said the fireworks display had finished and the crowd had got up to leave when they heard a noise and cries.

“A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people,” he said.

“I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.”

City officials told BFM TV that people should remain indoors.

President Barack Obama has been briefed on the attack.

“On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice,” the president said in a statement, adding that he offered French officials whatever assistance they may need.

“We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack,” he continued.

Reports of hostages being held nearby and another attack near the Eiffel Tower were not true.

Bastille Day, celebrated by the French on July 14 each year, is equivalent to the American Fourth of July holiday. It celebrates the day that French revolutionists stormed the infamous Bastille prison, which was holding both political opponents of the king and weapons and ammunition needed to overthrow the government.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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