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Truck Rams Bastille Day Crowd In Nice, France

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We're bringing you the latest this morning from Nice, the popular resort city on the French Riviera that late last night was celebrating France's national holiday, Bastille Day. Big crowds had been watching fireworks when, on the busy promenade, a man in a truck sped through the crowd, killing at least 84 people. We now know two Americans, a father and his young son, are among the dead. French President Francois Hollande has just finished addressing the nation in Nice.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (Through interpreter) Why Nice? Because it's a town famous across the world - a beautiful town - one of the most beautiful on the planet. Why the 14th of July? Because it's the celebration Bastille Day - freedom. And it was to affect France that this individual carried out this terrorist attack.

MONTAGNE: Vivienne Walt is also in Nice, reporting for Time magazine. She joins us by cellphone from near the scene. And tell me what the scene is like this morning.

VIVIENNE WALT: Well people are rarely in shock. Down by the promenade, a lot of them have gathered, really not to do anything but just to kind of try and absorb what they lived through. There were hundreds of people in the promenade last night during the fireworks display. And so this (unintelligible) really has affected the entire city.

The streets are deserted. And the other, most striking, thing is that this was an attack on families here in the middle of the children's hospital, which has seen dozens of injured children brought in, two of whom have died. And (unintelligible), a 10-year-old boy - well, they think he's a 10-year-old. (Unintelligible). And we can only surmise that both his parents have died in the attack.

MONTAGNE: And you've been talking this morning to eyewitnesses.

WALT: Yes, indeed. I mean, what they saw was just terrifying. But they say that for a moment, they actually froze in place because they couldn't quite grasp what was happening. It's just sort of - monstrously, the truck barreling towards them and mowing down people as it went along.

And it went more than a mile. So you have basically the entire promenade, which is usually full of ridiculous traffic, closed because it was Bastille Day and this truck plowing through the crowd and killing everything in its way.

MONTAGNE: I just want to apologize to our listeners for this line, which is very - at this very tough time, the only way we could reach you was by cellphone. But let us keep talking here. And let me ask you - what is known of this attacker?

WALT: Well, we have had some details come out about the driver. We know that he's Tunisian, living in Nice. He was killed in the attack under police fire. He rented the truck just a couple of days ago. And he appeared to have something of a troubled family life. He was in the middle of what seemed to be a pretty antagonistic divorce proceeding. So there are bits and pieces coming out.

MONTAGNE: Bits and pieces about him - and, you know, just finally and very briefly - what do they know of his connections to any groups, if at all? And I think - actually, I think we've lost Vivienne Walt just now. We - she is a reporter for Time magazine. She had joined us from Nice to talk to us about what she knows. And we will be following, of course, the latest, as the morning goes on and the day goes on, on the attack in Nice, France. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.