NICE, France (Reuters) - It took possibly just 15 minutes for a man to carry out an attack that killed at least 84 people, ten of them children, and injure more than 200 in the French city of Nice on July 14.
The man drove a 19-tonne truck at high speed into crowds as a fireworks show to mark France’s Bastille Day national holiday came to an end on Thursday. He was shot dead after ploughing through the crowd for some 2 km (1.5 miles) as he opened fire from his vehicle with a pistol.
Following is an outline of the sequence of events.
Times local (GMT +2, EST+6)
July 11: The big, white refrigerator truck involved in the killings is hired in Saint-Laurent-du-Var, just outside Nice. Prosecutors say the hire contract would have expired on July 13.
Before 2230: The attacker rides his bike to the Auriol neighborhood in Nice, where he loads his bike into the parked truck and gets behind the wheel. Molins confirms the attacker is Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, known to police for petty crime and violence but is not suspected of Islamist militancy. He is a 31-year-old Tunisian resident of Nice.
2200: A fireworks display attended by some 30,000 locals and tourists, including many children, begins near a tourist office on the Promenade des Anglais, a wide boulevard lined with palm trees and vast walking areas on the water’s edge that was closed to traffic for the occasion.
Approximately 2245: Soon after the firework show ends the attacker enters the Promenade des Anglais in the truck and drives down a stretch of about two km (1.5 miles) facing the “Vieille Ville” old quarter where many of the victims were killed. The truck avoids police vehicles blocking access by mounting the kerb, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
The driver starts swerving to hit people on the roadway and on the wide pavements that overlook the sea. According to witness accounts, the truck accelerates as it hurtles into the crowded area near a tourist office.
Regional government chief Christian Estrosi says the truck was traveling at about 90 km per hour (56 miles per hour).
The area of most destruction appears to be in an area of about 500 meters (550 yards) between the Negresco Hotel and the tourist office.
Molins says bulk of killing is along a 1.9 km stretch from number 11 to 147 of the Promenade des Anglais, where the four lanes of roadway were closed to traffic in each direction and full of pedestrians.
Approximately 2300: The driver is shot dead by police 300 meters (yards) after he fired three shots from a 7.65 mm pistol.
Social networks are by this time starting to relay images of devastation and chaos.
2350: Sebastien Humbert, deputy prefect of the Alpes-Maritime region that includes Nice, says the early death toll estimate is around 30 and that the incident is for now being described as a “criminal attack”.
0400: President Hollande refers in a televised address to the “terrorist nature of this attack” which involved “the most extreme form of violence” and says the death toll at this stage is at least 77. He says emergency rule imposed in France after Islamist attacks killed 130 people in Paris last November will be extended for three months.
After visiting victims in hospital in Nice, Hollande says the death toll has reached 84 and that about 50 are still fighting for their lives. The attacker was a delivery worker and father of a family, prosecutor Molins said.
Bouhlel’s estranged wife is taken into custody together with another person.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve says he could not confirm the attacker’s motives were linked to radical Islam.
Three more people, whom police sources refer to as Bouhlel’s “close entourage” are arrested.
Islamic State, through the affiliated news agency Amaq, claims responsibility for the attack, saying Bouhlel was “one of the soldiers of Islamic State”.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tells Le Journal du Dimanche that Bouhlel “was radicalised very quickly”.
A man and a woman close to Bouhlel were arrested in Nice early on Sunday. Bouhlel’s estranged wife is released, bringing the number of people in detention during the killings to six.
Reporting by Brian Love and Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Andrew Callus and David Clarke
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