Newspaper article International New York Times

Attacker Leaves Trails of Bodies and Despair

Newspaper article International New York Times

Attacker Leaves Trails of Bodies and Despair

Article excerpt

A speeding truck that barreled into a crowd on Bastille Day left a trail of bodies, shock and despair.

A red ambulance, its lights flashing, sped down the road and jerked to a stop. The driver jumped out, asking, "Where are the wounded?"

"We only have dead here," replied two men, trying to comfort a young man who was weeping over the body of his mother and imploring Allah to accept her into heaven.

An eerie tableau of death and dying extended along a mile-long stretch of the graceful, crescent-shaped Promenade des Anglais on Thursday night, running from Nice's airport to the oldest part of the coastal city.

One moment, there was a great street celebration for Bastille Day -- and the next, a truck came barreling through at high speed, leaving a trail of bodies, shock and despair through a French Riviera fiesta.

Among the first people killed by the speeding truck on the sidewalk next to Lenval Beach was the middle-aged Muslim woman. Two of her sons and other family members stood, weeping or frozen in stunned silence, around her body, which was covered in a pale blue tartan blanket.

Nearby there was another victim, an unidentified man sprawled on the sidewalk next to the beach beneath a bloodied sheet.

So numerous were the bodies that to protect their dignity, people had covered some of them with tablecloths snatched from the restaurants lining the Promenade des Anglais.

It was windy, with a slight, sporadic drizzle, and the celebration of just a few moments earlier was already a distant memory. Crowds had gathered to celebrate Bastille Day, France's most popular holiday. The woman and the man had been there, with so many others, along the broad seafront promenade, as Nice's annual fireworks display lit up the night sky.

They were all easy prey -- or, in the parlance of an era when this kind of killing has become all too common, they were soft targets. …

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