NICE, France (AP) — A truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers who’d gathered to watch fireworks in the French resort city of Nice late Thursday in what some officials and eyewitnesses described as a deliberate attack. The president of the Nice region said at least 60 people were killed.
Sylvie Toffin, a press officer with the local prefecture, said that the truck “hit several 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.” Nice regional president Eric Ciotti said on France Info radio that “It’s a scene of horror” and gave a figure of 60 dead. He said he was speaking from the scene.
Nice prosecutor Jean-Michel Prette said bodies are strewn about along the roadway. However he stopped short of using the word attack, while acknowledging that “it has many ingredients of an attack that allow us to think that.”
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,” Bouhlel said. “Bodies everywhere.”
Images circulating on social media showed grisly scenes of piles of bodies in the street. The president of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur regional council, Christian Estrosi, said in a message posted to Twitter that dozens of people appear to have been killed.
Bouhlel said he witnessed the man emerge with a gun and start shooting, but Toffin said she that, “to my knowledge” there was no gunfire.
It was not immediately clear who would have been behind an attack, but France has recently seen a spate of dramatic assaults from by jihadist groups, including the Islamic State group which straddles Iraq and Syria.