Terrorism struck France once again last night, this time in the form of a 31-year-old Tunisian man named Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel who used a semi-truck to plow through a crowded seaside promenade in Nice on Bastille Day. In the aftermath, with bodies lying twisted and broken across hundreds of feet of pavement, 84 people were dead and over 200 injured, many of them critically. At least 10 children and infants were among those killed.
According to the Washington Post, two Americans, a father and son from Texas vacationing with their family, were killed.
While officials are calling it an act of terrorism, Mohamed has not been linked yet to a terrorist group. He has been known by authorities as a petty criminal.
President François Hollande seemed convinced this was ideologically motivated attack, saying, “Why on the 14th of July? Because it is a celebration of freedom. It was, therefore, indeed to affect France that the individual committed this terrorist attack.”
According to Agence France-Presse, a German journalist witnessed an act of heroism by a motorcyclist who immediately recognized that the Bastille Day revelers were under attack and rushed to save them.
He said as the truck driver plowed through the crowd, a motorcyclist started to chase him. What Richard Gutjahr described next sounds straight out of Hollywood.
"The motorcyclist attempted to overtake the truck and even tried to open the driver's door, but he fell and ended up under the wheels of the truck," he said.
Police officers next tried to stop the truck, riddling it with bullets, Gutjahr said. And then things got even worse.
"The driver stepped on the accelerator and the truck sped up, accelerated and drove in a zig-zag course into the crowd," Gutjahr recounted.
Incredibly gruesome video footage he shot shows numerous bodies mangled and lying in pools of blood.
But according to the New York Times, police did eventually stop the truck. That's when Mohamed exited the cab with a gun and started shooting before being shot and killed himself.
In the aftermath, Hollande exclaimed, "France is afflicted, but she is strong, and she will always be stronger than the fanatics who want to strike her today."
Please pray for the injured victims and the families of those who were lost. Please pray for the first responders and investigators as they seek to find the true motive behind this horrific attack.