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French Authorities Continue Investigation Into Deadly Attack In Nice

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Officials say this appears to be a terrorist attack. We go now to Paris where prosecutors have opened an investigation. Vivienne Walt is a reporter with Time magazine. She's based in Paris. Thank you for joining us.

VIVIENNE WALT: You're welcome.

SHAPIRO: What can you tell us about this investigation by French authorities?

WALT: Well, of course, it's very early hours. It's the middle of the night here. It's about four hours after the attacks. So this is very, very early times. And we have not yet heard from the president, which I imagine we will do rather shortly, I would think. But he has been locked up in crisis meetings, and this all points to the beginnings of a very major terrorist investigation.

The terrorist investigators - that's our specialist here in Paris - has said that they're looking into something called assassinations with connections to a terror enterprise. So it does not seem to be any kind of doubt that this was in fact a premeditated terror attack.

SHAPIRO: Particularly, as the former mayor of Nice has said, that the truck was packed with explosives, grenades and other weapons. Have authorities said anything about who the driver may have been and whether he acted alone?

WALT: The (unintelligible) were that he was not alone. What we did hear after the shootout with police that the driver was killed but there appears to be a second person inside the truck that seemed to have been able to flee from the scene and is still being hunted by police. So - although, we have not had confirmation for that - from that - about that in the hours since, the early reports were that he was not alone in the truck.

SHAPIRO: So just to restate because your line was breaking up a little bit, there are some unconfirmed reports that the driver may not have been alone. The other person in the truck with him might have escaped, and there may be a manhunt on for him. But we don't know this for a fact. Are people in Nice still being told to stay indoors and stay safe out of the streets?

WALT: Well, at this point, they're not being told that because it's 3 o'clock in the morning. But, nonetheless, there was a feeling that there was a risk that they would - that this would be the first of multiple attacks similar to what happened in Paris last November. And, therefore, the very, very early work from the police and the mayor and the regional authorities was don't go outdoors and please stay inside because they were concerned that people would like pour onto the streets. Remember it's Bastille Day. Everybody's out on the street and that there might have been a second or a third attack.

SHAPIRO: France has been under a state of emergency for months. Will you describe the state of security, the level of security that you have in Paris?

WALT: It's been fairly extraordinary, Ari. I mean, this is a city that's really been, you know, somewhat bristling with armed security, I would say. Right on the very block on which I live, there are three armed soldiers that have been patrolling for months now. And it's become such a common sight that most Parisians don't really notice it anymore.

But, nonetheless, this is a very changed city from what it was eight months ago before the Paris attacks. There is definitely a sense of this being a country under a state of emergency. And the very worrying thing for people here is what more could authorities do to avoid more attacks if it did not work at this level of security?

SHAPIRO: That's Vivienne Walt, a reporter for Time magazine in Paris. Thank you for joining us.

WALT: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.