An attacker killed at least 84 people by driving a truck at high speed into crowds watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city of Nice late on Thursday.
French President Francoise Hollande said the attack was undeniably of a terrorist nature, according to a Reuters translation of the president's televised national address at 4 a.m. local time. The act was a "monstrous" one, he said, and the victims included "many children."
Police shot and killed the driver, who drove a 25-ton, unmarked truck at high speed for more than 100 meters along the famed Promenade des Anglais seafront in the southern resort town before hitting a mass of spectators, regional sub-prefect Sebastien Humbert had earlier told France Info radio.
The driver then continued to plow on through the crowd for hundreds of meters as "people went down like nine-pins," according to an onlooker.
The incident occurred around 10.40 p.m. local time. Photographs of the truck show its windshield scored by bullet holes and its front grille destroyed.
NBC News cited a source as saying that the driver, who has not yet been named, was a French national of Tunisian descent. French media made similar reports, while Reuters reported that the man was 31 and born in Tunisia, adding that he was known to police for common law crimes but not to intelligence services. Reuters was citing an unnamed police source.
The death toll from the attack had mounted throughout the evening and early morning in France, with the latest count coming at about 8 a.m. CEST, when a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said 84 people had died and 18 were in critical condition.
CNBC was unable to independently confirm the numbers.
Among the casualties were a father, 51, and son, 11, from Lakeway, near Austin in Texas, NBC News said.