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2780d ago / 1:22 AM UTC

'Now the Middle East Can Happen Anywhere': Egyptian Witness

An Egyptian man on vacation in Nice came face to face with the driver of the truck who plowed into the holiday crowd.

Nader El Shafei, a former banker from Cairo, recounted the terrifying moments in the lobby of the Hotel Mercure to freelance journalist Linda Hervieux. After the truck plowed into the crowd — "He smashed into a lot of people" — El Shafei walked in front of the vehicle and waved his arms at the driver.

"I was waving to the driver 'Stop, there's a girl under the truck.'

"I saw him pick up a phone, I thought, and at this point I still think it's an accident and then I see he pulls out a gun. It looked like a handgun, a Glock. He pulled it out and I understood something was wrong ... and then I see the police shooting him."

Everyone started running, he said. The cops were yelling at him to get out of the way.

"I couldn't run," he said. "I was just frozen."

He said that when he was on the promenade, the though of terrorism crossed his mind.

"Five minutes before this happened, I thought in this peaceful place somebody crazy could do something."

"I'm used to all of these actions in the Middle East but I was never this close to it. I said to my friends, 'Now we can’t go to Europe to escape the Middle East. Now the Middle East can happen anywhere."

2779d ago / 7:08 PM UTC

Witness Who Recorded Rampage Describes Panic

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Sylvain Benouaich, a 52-year-old maintenance worker, said he was sitting at a sports bar along a busy Nice promenade when a driver entered an area blocked off to vehicles.

The night of revelry quickly descended into chaos. 

"I look at the truck and I don't understand why he is inside of the zone, inside the place when nobody can drive," Benouaich said. "And I hear a lot of people cry and the noise, it's very important, you know, help, the people panic, big panic. They run to the left and ... to the right, nobody knows where to go."

He pulled out his cellphone and began to record what ended up being the last few seconds of the confrontation between police and the driver, later identified as 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.

Benouaich described seeing police take two men into custody outside the truck near its rear-end as they confronted and killed Bouhlel. He doesn't know if the men were officially arrested or involved in the attack.

"In this video, you can see policemen shoot the terrorist and (make) an arrest," Benouaich said. "They stop two men near the truck and immediately take the men and ... put them in a police car."

2779d ago / 4:43 PM UTC

More Than 200 Wounded, Many on Life Support

Paris prosecutors updated the injury count and the conditions of victims during a news conference Friday afternoon. Here is the latest numbers:

202: Total people wounded.

52: The wounded still in critical condition.

25: The wounded who are also on life support.

84: Total people killed.

10: Those killed who were children/teenagers.

2779d ago / 2:58 PM UTC

Truck Massacre Suspect Had 'Frightening' Look: Neighbor

A woman who said she is the neighbor of Nice attack suspect described him Friday as a frightening man and "not normal."

Officials say Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian-born Frenchman, drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing dozens of people.

A woman called Hanan, who told Reuters she lives in the building believed to be the one inhabited by Bouhlel, said he was odd.

"He looked at us weirdly, he wouldn't even open the door, when we'd arrive behind he'd slam the door shut. Frankly, not normal," she said.

She described him as "a handsome man, going gray, in his 30s ... I would say he was someone who was pleasing to women."

Hanan said he was "always alone."

She added: "He didn't have a frightening face, but ... a look, a look. He would stare at the children a lot."

Forensic police searched an apartment on the first floor in the building, which is in a relatively poor neighborhood to the east of downtown Nice.

2779d ago / 1:53 PM UTC

French President: 50 Victims 'Between Life and Death'

A total of 50 truck attack victims were critically injured and “between life and death,” France's president told reporters Friday after visiting some of the survivors at a hospital.

Francois Hollande praised medics who rushed to work “in the middle of the night to save lives” following the Bastille Day atrocity. He described police, firefighters and other public workers who responded as “the pride of France.”

The country was “facing a long battle,” Hollande warned, saying the attack was intended "to satisfy the cruelty of an individual, and maybe a group."

Addressing a country seeking answers, he said: “Why Nice? Because it is known all over the world, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Why July 14? Because it is a celebration of liberty.”

However, he insisted that France must be strong.

“The world is watching us,” Hollande added.

2779d ago / 1:41 PM UTC

Marine Le Pen Calls for 'War' Against Fundamentalism

The outspoken leader of France's far-right National Front party said the country must declare "war against the scourge of Islamic fundamentalism."

In a statement following Thursday's deadly truck attack in Nice, Marine Le Pen called on France to implement the "necessary measures of prevention and suppression" of Muslim hardliners.

Le Pen has been pushing for tighter immigration laws in France and a crack down on Islamists in the wake of recent terror attacks.

The truck driver has been identified as Mohamed Lagouaiej Bouhlel. While French media reported that ID papers belonging to a French-Tunisian were found in the truck, no terror group has claimed responsibility for the rampage and a motive remains unclear.

Le Pen also expressed condolences for the victims, adding that the festive Bastille Day events were instead turned into "a horror day of great sorrow."

2779d ago / 1:14 PM UTC

False Alarm at Nice Airport

The Associated Press is reporting that passengers are being allowed back into Nice Airport.

An NBC News journalist who had just landed earlier said people were again being allowed through immigration after a 30-minute wait.

It wasn't immediately clear what caused the scare.

2779d ago / 12:56 PM UTC

Interpol Sends Experts to Nice

An Interpol team is being deployed to Nice to assist with the investigation into the attack, the agency said Friday.

The officials include victim identification experts along with terrorism and information specialists who can carry out real-time checks on the agency's databases, according to Interpol.

It announced the news in a statement condemning the attack and offering full support to French authorities.

“On behalf of the world police community, Interpol condemns this cowardly and horrific attack in the strongest terms,” Interpol's Jürgen Stock said in a statement. “We remain in full solidarity with the citizens of our host nation, France and are providing all support necessary to French authorities."

2780d ago / 12:39 PM UTC

Nice Airport Partially Evacuated Amid Scare

Nice Airport was partially evacuated Friday and bomb squads called in after a suspicious package was reported in the arrivals lounge of Terminal 1, officials said.

An NBC News journalist who had just landed at the airport said he was held up at immigration for 30 minutes before passengers started being let through.

2780d ago / 11:46 AM UTC

U.N. Secretary-General Condemns 'Massacre'

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined the outpouring of condolences on Friday, condemning the "horrific" attack and expressing sympathy for the victims.

"The secretary-general hopes that all those responsible for this massacre will be rapidly identified and brought to justice," his office said in a statement. "He stands firmly by the French government and people as they confront this threat and stresses the need to intensify regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism."

 

2780d ago / 10:59 AM UTC

Clarence Thomas Left Nice Not Long Before Attack

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas left Nice just hours before the attack, according to a California law school.

He was teaching a study abroad course in the French city through the San Diego-based Thomas Jefferson School of Law, a spokesman told NBC San Diego.

Thomas, 68, agreed to teach the course after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who had been scheduled to participate in the program for the fifth time, the school said.

"Justice Scalia would be proud to have Justice Thomas teach Constitutional Law in his place, a subject about which the late Justice Scalia was passionate," Thomas Guernsey, president and dean of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, said in a statement in March.

2780d ago / 10:22 AM UTC

London Eyes Safety Measures After 'Sick and Evil' Attack

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he would review security in the city of more than 8 million in the wake of the deadly truck attack in the French city of Nice.

"I want to reassure all Londoners that today we will be reviewing our own safety measures in light of this attack and that I and the Metropolitan Police commissioner will do everything possible to keep London safe," he said in a statement Friday. 

He also pledged to "stand united with Nice and all of France in our grief."

Khan added: "We are also united in our determination to root out and defeat the sick and evil individuals who have tried to divide us with this cowardly act of terror." 

A series of bombings on public transportation killed 52 people in the U.K. capital on July 7, 2005.