At least 77 dead in alleged terrorist attack in Nice

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Paris, July 15 (IANS) At least 77 people have died and many others injured in an alleged terrorist attack on Bastille day by a truck driver in Nice, the mayor of Nice Christian Estrosi reported.

French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls were in the inter-ministerial crisis cell after the attack.

A spokesperson for the Elysee Palace told EFE news agency that Hollande went to the crisis cell in the Ministry of Interior where Valls was to receive further information from Nice.

The President earlier cancelled his trip to Avignon in the south of the country to return hastily to Paris.

From 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT), Hollande will preside over a security and defence council meeting with ministers and the main authorities in these matters, said the spokesperson for the Elysee.

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Hollande had indicated hours before the Nice attack that the state of emergency declared immediately after the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015 would be lifted on July 26.

At 22:30 Thursday night local time, a truck drove at high speed into the crowd who gathered on the promenade to watch fireworks marking July 14, the French national day, wrote Christian Estrosi, president of the region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, on Twitter, according to Xinhua.

Estrosi described the incident as “the worst Nice drama of history”.

BFMTV said the truck “travelled for two kilometers ploughing people”.

The driver in the incident, which was earlier reportedly described by the prefecture of the Alpes-Maritimes as an “attack”, was neuralised and probe was launched to determine whether he acted alone, the interior ministry said.

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Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve will arrive at Nice in the coming hours, said Pierre-Henry Brandet, the spokesperson of Interior Ministry, adding that there was no hostage in the incident.

Meanwhile, US president Barack Obama said in a statement that “we have offered any assistance that they may need to investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice”.

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

The US president also showed his admiration for “the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world” and he is convinced that this character will “endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.”

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