Kingsport Times-News: Update: 2 Americans among 84 killed in France attack
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Update: 2 Americans among 84 killed in France attack

By CIARAN FAHEY and RAPHAEL SATTER Associated Press • Jul 14, 2016 at 7:24 PM

NICE, France (AP) — The Latest on attack that killed 84 people in Nice (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby says two Americans were among those killed in Nice on Thursday when a large truck plowed through a crowd gathered for fireworks.

Kirby didn't identify the individuals by name, citing privacy concerns.

He says the U.S. is providing assistance to those affected by the attack, while the embassy tries to account for all Americans in the Mediterranean city.

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12:20 p.m.

Two French police officials say identity papers found alongside the attacker behind a killing spree in southeastern Nice belonged to a 31-year-old Frenchman of Tunisian descent with previous misdemeanor convictions but no known link to extremist groups.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said Friday that the papers were those of Nice resident. They cautioned that DNA and identity checks with acquaintances were pending to fully verify the identity.

The suspect died in a shootout with police after mowing down dozens of people with a truck on Nice's seaside Promenade des Anglais during national Bastille Day revelry Thursday.

The Paris prosecutor's office, which is leading the investigation, declined to comment.

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11:55 a.m.

Czech police say they are increasing security as a precaution following the truck attack in Nice.

Tomas Tuhy, the country's top police officer says security has been boosted at Prague's and other international airports, train stations and other places where sports and cultural events take place.

The Foreign Ministry says no Czechs are among the dead, but one Czech woman suffered a light injury in the attack.

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11:40 a.m.

Estonia's Foreign Ministry says two Estonian nationals were injured in the Nice attack and it is trying to reach other Estonians believed to be in the area. It did not identify the injured or give further details.

Meanwhile, Estonian state-owned airline Nordica says it's offering passengers with tickets to Nice for July to change their flight plans.

Nordica CEO Jaan Tamm says customers who have flown to Nice will be allowed to return on earlier return flights if seats are available. Passengers booked to fly to Nice this month will be allowed to change the time of their departure or change the destination to the Croatian cities of Split or Rijeka, or Odessa in Ukraine until the end of the summer season free of charge.

Two Estonian mobile operators said they would allow clients to make free mobile calls from France and receive calls there free of charge for the next two days.

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11:35 a.m.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan says London will review its security procedures because of the attack in Nice.

The mayor said he wants to reassure all London residents that the Metropolitan Police will do "everything possible" to keep the British capital safe. He said the extremists' "poisonous and twisted ideology" will be defeated in France, London and other parts of the world.

The terror threat in Britain is judged to be "severe," meaning that an attack is highly likely.

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11:15 a.m.

Belgium's prime minister says next week's national holiday celebrations will go ahead, but with additional security measures.

Charles Michel spoke to journalists following a morning meeting of the Belgian's government's Security Council following the lethal truck attack in Nice, France.

Michel says Belgian authorities had already considered the possibility of a terrorist using a vehicle to attack a crowd. He says additional "appropriate measures," which he did not specify, will now be taken to safeguard events scheduled to mark National Day on July 21.

OCAM, an independent body that assesses the risk of an extremist attack in Belgium, is maintaining the threat level at 3 on a 4-point scale, Michel said. For the level to be raised to the maximum, he says, there must be "concrete and precise" information about an imminent attack, which he said there was none at present.

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11:05 a.m.

German police say they're stepping up border checks on the French frontier following the attack in Nice.

Federal police said Thursday that they had increased checks at land borders and railway crossings with France, and at airports.

They would not give further details, but said the move was made in consultation with France.

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10:55 a.m.

The children's hospital in Nice says it has treated some 50 children and adolescents injured in the truck attack, including two who died during or after surgery.

Stephanie Simpson, the communications director for the Lenval foundation hospital, tells The Associated Press that injuries included fractures and head injuries and that the victims were aged 18 or under.

In a phone interview, she said: "Some are still life and death."

She said she could not say exact number of children hospitalized or the ages of those who died.

The hospital is also offering psychological counselling to parents and siblings.

The hospital, equipped with one of France's largest pediadiatric emergency units, also called the families of children it was already treating before the attack to ask them to pick up their children to free up rooms for the attack victims.

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10:40 a.m.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the government is declaring three days of national mourning after the attack in Nice that left at least 84 people dead. Speaking after an emergency meeting, Valls said the national mourning would begin Saturday.

He confirmed that a measure extending the country's state of emergency would go before lawmakers next week.

Valls and French President Francois Hollande were going to Nice later Friday.

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10:10 a.m.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has cut short a visit to Mongolia to return to Paris because of the Nice attack.

A foreign ministry spokesman says Ayrault was in Mongolia for the Asia-Europe summit and is expected back late Friday.

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9:55 a.m.

Germany's top security official says the attack in Nice is "incomprehensible and simply awful," and that "this barbaric murder must be finally brought to an end."

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Friday he was shocked by the news of the attack and that his thoughts were with the victims and their family.

De Maiziere says "our friendship with the French people will become even deeper in mourning, anger and determination."

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9:50 a.m.

Belgium's prime minister said he's convening a meeting of the National Security Council Friday in the wake of the Nice attack, to make sure adequate security measures are in place for Belgium's national holiday next week.

"We have already taken a certain number of steps in connection with preparations for July 21, as you can imagine, and our security services are permanently evaluating the measures that are necessary," Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, said in a radio interview. "It's certain that our security services are going to include information resulting from this act committed last night in Nice in their analyses."

On March 22, suicide bombers killed 32 victims in the Brussels Airport and subway. The Belgian capital was also home to many of the attackers who killed 130 people in Paris on Nov. 13.

Both of those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.

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9:40 a.m.

A lawmaker for the region that includes Nice said some people tried to escape the attack by going into the sea, giving new details of the horrifying last minutes of the attack in Nice.

"A person jumped onto the truck to try to stop it," Eric Ciotti told Europe 1 radio. "It's at that moment that the police were able to neutralize this terrorist. I won't forget the look of this policewoman who intercepted the killer."

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9:30 a.m.

Christian Estrosi, the regional president in Nice, said some of the city's 1,200 security cameras had pinpointed the moment the attacker boarded the truck, far from the seaside "in the hills of Nice" and could follow his path to the promenade. Estrosi called for the investigation to focus on any accomplices.

"Attacks aren't prepared alone. Attacks are prepared with accomplices," Estrosi said. "There is a chain of complicity. I expect it to be unveiled, discovered and kept up to date."

Estrosi said more than 10 children were among the dead and he said France needed to think carefully about its next response to attacks, as previous responses were not enough to protect the people.

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9:20 a.m.

Russian news agencies on Friday quoted Irina Tyurina, spokeswoman for the Russian Union of Travel Industry, saying that a Russian woman was killed and her friend hurt in the Nice attack. Tyurina said she got the information from insurance agencies.

"Two friends from Russia were taking a walk on the Promenade des Anglais. One was killed by the truck, the other lightly injured, she's got broken toes and some other minor injuries," Tyurina said.

Thousands of Russian tourists are estimated to be holidaymaking in Nice.

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8:50 a.m.

Tour de France riders including race leader Chris Froome sent messages of support to the victims of the deadly attack in Nice, although organizers did not immediately say whether cycling's showpiece event will continue as planned.

Froome posted a picture of the blue, white and red French flag on Twitter and wrote: "Thoughts are with those affected by the horrific terror attack in Nice."

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8:30 a.m.

The city of Marseille has canceled its fireworks show on Friday. The seaside city, not far from Nice and one of France's largest, announced the cancellation after an attack on Nice's waterfront promenade left at least 84 people dead.

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8 a.m.

The French Interior Ministry has raised the death toll to 84 from the attack on people celebrating Bastille Day in the Riviera city of Nice. The additional four deaths were apparently from the 18 people who were seriously injured when a truck slammed into the crowds. Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said extra medical-legal police were being sent to Nice to speed the identification process so bodies can be returned to families.

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7:50 a.m.

France, hit with two waves of attacks last year that killed 147 people, has long known it is a top target for the Islamic State group. In September 2014, then-spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani referred to "the filthy French" in a statement telling Muslims within the country to attack them in any way they could, including "crush them with your car."

The message was not limited to France. It addressed "disbelieving Americans or Europeans — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian or a Canadian."

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Previous story:

NICE, France (AP) — A truck loaded with weapons and hand grenades drove onto a sidewalk for more than a mile, plowing through Bastille Day revelers who’d gathered to watch fireworks in the French resort city of Nice late Thursday. At least 77 people were killed before police killed the driver, authorities said.

Nice prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre described a horrific scene, with bodies strewn about along the roadway and Sylvie Toffin, a press officer with the local prefecture, said the truck ran over people on a “long trip” down the sidewalk near Nice’s Palais de la Mediterranee, a building that fronts the beach.

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,” he said. “Bodies everywhere.”

The Paris prosecutor’s office opened an investigation for “murder, attempted murder in an organized group linked to a terrorist enterprise.”

The ranking politician of the Alpes-Maritime department that includes Nice said the truck plowed into the crowd over a distance of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles), killing 77 people and wounding 50. Many of those on the ground were in shorts and other summer clothing.

Eric Ciotti said on BFM TV that police killed the driver “apparently after an exchange of gunfire.”

The president of the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur regional council, which includes Nice, said the truck was loaded with arms and grenades. Christian Estrosi told BFM TV that “the driver fired on the crowd, according to the police who killed him.”

Bouhlel said he witnessed the man emerge with a gun and start shooting.

Images being broadcast across French media showed revelers running for their lives down Nice’s palm tree-lined Promenade des Anglais, the famous seaside boulevard named for the English aristocrats who proposed its construction in the 19th century.

Video footage showed men and women — one or two pushing strollers — racing to get away from the scenes. And, in what appeared to be evidence of a gun battle, photos showed a truck with at least half a dozen bullet holes punched through its windshield.

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.

President Barack Obama condemned what he said “appears to be a horrific terrorist attack.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and other loved ones of those killed,” he said.

European Council president Donald Tusk said it was a “tragic paradox” that the victims of the attack in Nice were celebrating “liberty, equality and fraternity” — France’s motto — on the country’s national day.

France’s ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, characterized the events as a “terrorist attack.”

Writing online, Nice Matin journalist Damien Allemand who was at the waterside said the fireworks display had finished and the crowd had got up to leave when they heard a noise and cries.

“A fraction of a second later, an enormous white truck came along at a crazy speed, turning the wheel to mow down the maximum number of people,” he said.

“I saw bodies flying like bowling pins along its route. Heard noises, cries that I will never forget.”

Graphic footage showed a scene of horror up and down the Promenade, with broken bodies splayed out on the asphalt, some of them piled near one another, others bleeding out onto the roadway or twisted into unnatural shapes.

“Help my mother, please!” one person yells out amid a cacophony of screaming and crying. A pink girl’s bicycle is briefly seen overturned by the side of the road.

The origin and authenticity of the footage could not immediately be verified.

Kayla Repan, of Boca Raton, Florida, was among the hundreds gathered on the promenade to watch fireworks.

“The whole city was running. I got extremely frightened and ran away from the promenade,” she said. “It was chaos.”

Satter reported from Paris.

Associated Press writers Elaine Ganley in Paris and Naomi Koppel in London contributed to this report.

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