At least 10 children were killed in an attack in Nice Thursday night, as families gathered near the southern French city’s idyllic seaside for Bastille Day celebrations.
Dozens of other children, from infants to teenagers, were injured and remain hospitalized, French officials said.
30,000 Men, Women, Children Gathered for Celebrations
Against a backdrop of crystal blue water and a white stone beach, the Promenade des Anglais in Nice drew thousands of people to its waterfront for annual festivities, where the scenic revelry ended in horror. Families with young children were among those enjoying a fireworks display that lit up the night sky above the Mediterranean waters.
A Nice City Hall spokesman told ABC News there were about 30,000 people at the palm-lined promenade to celebrate France’s national holiday, an equivalent to America’s Fourth of July.
Carnage Marks Bastille Day Again
Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, when an angry mob attacked the medieval fortress and prison in Paris during the French Revolution. The deadly fight was a flash point in the rebellion that eventually led to the overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy and the execution of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette.
Carnage marked the day again centuries later in Nice Thursday night. It wasn’t long after the fireworks ended that spectators were fleeing for their lives and the Promenade des Anglais was scattered with the crushed bodies of men, women and children. Chilling images of the scene showed dolls, toys and a child's bicycle among the possessions left behind.
A gun-wielding truck driver barreled into the spectators while firing shots out the window during a mile-long rampage on the promenade. The man was killed in a shootout with police, French officials said. Photos of the white vehicle showed a bullet-ridden windshield.
Amid the chaos and confusion, one mother was separated from her baby boy. Her friends Yohlaine Ramasitera and Rebecca Boulanger posted on Facebook asking for help to find the missing child, and the word quickly spread. Their posts were collectively shared hundreds of times on Facebook.
According to a later post from Boulanger, a lady had found the baby and took him to safety. The family members were then contacted and went to pick him up.
Suspect and Victims Identified
Officials have identified the suspect as 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who was born in Tunisia but lived in Nice with his wife and worked as a delivery driver. Fingerprints confirmed Bouhlel's identity and he was "entirely unknown by intelligence services," French prosecutor Francois Molins said during a news conference today.
At least 84 people lost their lives in the attack and 202 were wounded. Among those hospitalized, 52 are in critical condition, Molins said.
A Texas father, Sean Copeland, and his 11-year-old son Brodie were among the dead. They were in Nice on a family vacation, according to relatives. The U.S. State Department confirmed that two Americans were killed in the attack, but did not identify them by name.
ABC News’ Louise Dewast contributed to this report.