A large truck drove into a crowd of people who had gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks show Thursday in the southern French city of Nice, killing at least 73 people and injuring 100 more in a terror attack, officials said.
The city’s prefect of police told FranceTV Info that the death toll was only an estimation. French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the truck driver had been “neutralized” and an investigation would confirm whether he had acted alone.
A police spokeswoman, Sylvie Toffin, confirmed the incident was deliberate to the Associated Press, saying “It’s an attack.”
A witness, Wassim Bouhlel, told the Associated Press that he saw the truck drive into the crowd, then witnessed the driver emerge with a gun and start shooting.
“There was carnage on the road,” Bouhlel said. “Bodies everywhere.”
Nice’s public prosecutor told reporters early Friday that bodies of the victims were scattered for over a mile along the Promenade des Anglais, a major thoroughfare along the Mediterranean Sea.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi asked residents to stay where they were immediately following the attack.
Cher niçois, le chauffeur d’un camion semble avoir fait des dizaines de morts. Restez pour le moment à votre domicile. Plus d’infos à venir
— Christian Estrosi (@cestrosi) July 14, 2016
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but but France has recently seen a spate of dramatic assaults from by jihadist groups, including the Islamic State group (ISIS) which straddles Iraq and Syria.
A U.S. official told Fox News that U.S. Homeland Security Jeh Johnson had been briefed on the attack. The official added that the attack was in line with ISIS, which has become “increasingly brazen” in its attacks as it comes under increasing military pressure in Iraq and Syria.
The attack happened at around 10:30 p.m. local time. A witness, identified only as Chloe, told FranceTV Info, “We heard gunfire, a lot. A crowd came to us and told us to run … We went into a tapas bar and hid in the bathroom for half an hour.
“We went out and again we heard people running and saying ‘truck, truck,’ so we hid in the bathroom for an hour. The manager took us out by the back door and then I went home.”
Sebastien Humbert, a regional police prefect, told BFM TV the truck traveled “over a long distance, which explains this extremely heavy toll.”
The Nice-Matin newspaper quoted one of its reporters as saying the truck driver “mounted onto the Prom and he drove on everyone.” The reporter added, “people are running, it’s panic.”
The paper later posted an image of the truck on Twitter, captioning it, “The truck that drove into the crowd.”
Le camion qui a foncé sur la foule pic.twitter.com/h4QuBabJMx
— Nice-Matin (@Nice_Matin) July 14, 2016
July 14 is a national holiday in France that commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris and the start of the French Revolution.