An attacker plowed a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the French Riviera, killing at least 84 people in what President Francois Hollande called a terrorist act by an enemy determined to strike all nations that share France's values.
The driver, identified by police sources as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian resident in France, also appeared to open fire before officers shot him dead. He was known to the police in connection with common crimes such as theft and violence but was not on the watch list of French intelligence services, the sources said.
A Paris prosecutor said the driver was divorced with children and that his ex-wife is currently in police custody.
The third mass killing in Western Europe in eight months caused more fear across an already anxious continent struggling with security challenges from mass immigration, open borders and pockets of Islamist radicalism.
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The truck zigzagged along the seafront Promenade des Anglais in the city of Nice as a fireworks display marking the French national day ended on Thursday night. It careered into families and friends listening to an orchestra or strolling above the beach on the Mediterranean Sea toward the grand, century-old Hotel Negresco.
Bystander Franck Sidoli said he had seen people go down. "Then the truck stopped, we were just five meters away. A woman was there, she lost her son. Her son was on the ground, bleeding," he told Reuters at the scene.