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Nice attack: How I fled terror slaughter - Northern Ireland woman

Belfast woman tells of horror as gunmen target Bastille Day festivities - scores killed

By David Young

Published 15/07/2016

Police officers and rescue workers at the scene after a lorry ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in Nice
Police officers and rescue workers at the scene after a lorry ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in Nice
Crowds run from the scene of the attack
French police officers stand beside the lorry, with its windscreen riddled with bullet holes, which was used in last night’s atrocity
French police officers stand beside the lorry, with its windscreen riddled with bullet holes, which was used in last night’s atrocity
Laura McGarrity
This screen grab from a TF1 broadcast shows French President Francois Hollande speaking about the attack in Nice early on July 15, 2016 at the Elysee in Paris. A truck ploughed into a crowd in the French Riviera resort of Nice, killing at least 80 and injuring scores in what Hollande called a "terrorist" attack on revellers watching a Bastille Day fireworks display. / AFP PHOTO / TF1 / TF1 /
Mexican Senate building is illuminated with the colors of the French national flag on July 14, 2016 in Mexico City in solidarity following the deadly attack in Nice, France. Several monuments and public buildings along Reforma Avenue of Mexico City were lit in blue, white and red.
Twitter feed file video grab courtesy of @harp_detectives of people running away after dozens of people are believed to have been killed when a lorry ploughed into a Bastille Day crowd in Nice. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday July 15, 2016. See PA story POLICE Nice. Photo credit should read: @harp_detectives/PA Wire
A man runs near the scene of an attack after a truck drove onto the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The truck which slammed into revelers late Thursday, July 14, is seen near the site of an attack in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. France has been stunned again as a large white truck mowed through a crowd of revelers gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the Riviera city of Nice. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The truck which slammed into revelers late Thursday, July 14, is seen near the site of an attack in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. The truck loaded with weapons and hand grenades drove onto a sidewalk for more than a mile, plowing through Bastille Day revelers who'd gathered to watch fireworks in the French resort city of Nice late Thursday. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The truck which slammed into revelers late Thursday, July 14, is seen near the site of an attack in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. France has been stunned again as the large white truck mowed through a crowd of revelers gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the Riviera city of Nice. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
France's Clement Sordet with 'Pray for Nice' written on his hat during day two of The Open Championship 2016 at Royal Troon Golf Club, South Ayrshire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 15, 2016. See PA story GOLF Open. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire.
A Police car is parked near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. A spokesman for France's Interior Ministry says there are likely to be "several dozen dead" after a truck drove into a crowd of revelers celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice. (AP Photo/Christian Alminana)
Forensic officers stands near a truck with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. At least 80 people were killed before police killed the driver, authorities said. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Workers settle fences at the Promenade Des Anglais, near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk late Thursday, July 14, and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Ambulances line up near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. A spokesman for France's Interior Ministry says there are likely to be "several dozen dead" after a truck drove into a crowd of revelers celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A vehicle runs at the Promenade des Anglais near the scene of an attack after a truck drove on to the sidewalk late Thursday, July 14, and plowed through a crowd of revelers who'd gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice, southern France, Friday, July 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Leaders stand for a minute of silence for the victims of a deadly attack in the French city of Nice, before the opening session of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Friday, July 15, 2016. (Damir Sagolj/Pool Photo via AP)

A young Belfast woman has told of her horror after a lorry slammed into a crowd in southern France, killing scores of Bastille Day revellers.

Laura McGarrity and boyfriend Christopher Lismore fled a beach in terror after the lorry deliberately ploughed at high speed into a crowd in Nice.


So far 84 people had been killed and many others critically ill in hospital in an outrage being blamed on Islamic State.

The streets and beaches had been full of people celebrating France's national holiday.

The truck tore along the pavement near Nice's Palais de la Mediterranee, mowing victims down at speed.

"We were on the beach when it happened - at the most we were 300 metres from the attack," Laura told the Belfast Telegraph last night as panic gripped the Riviera city.

"There were thousands of families at the beach to watch the Bastille Day fireworks.

"The firework display had just ended and families had just started setting off their own on the shore.

"You could hear the sirens in the background, but I thought it was French police being overcautious - we had noticed a tense atmosphere on the lead-up to and during the Euro 2016 final.

"The sight of hundreds running towards us... I couldn't help but think of Tunisia," added Laura, referring to the beach attack in Sousse in which 38 tourists died. It is also just eight months since Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people in Paris.

84 people killed in the French city of Nice after a terrorist ploughed a truck into a large crowd during Bastille Day celebrations. Graphic shows location of the attack.
84 people killed in the French city of Nice after a terrorist ploughed a truck into a large crowd during Bastille Day celebrations. Graphic shows location of the attack.

Eyewitnesses said a gunman got out of the lorry and fired into the crowd. News agency reports said gunshots were heard, and the lorry windscreen was photographed riddled with bullets by French security forces.

Police shot the gunman dead, but an accomplice is believed to have fled the scene, and weapons and grenades were found in the lorry, according to reports.

Laura said that terrorism was on everyone's lips as panic spread.

"Hundreds of people ran along the beach not knowing what had happened - but all muttering ISIS," she said.

"A young couple told us a man went into the crowd with a Kalashnikov and killed lots of people.

"We didn't believe it, and walked into the old town.

"Walking through the quiet, narrow streets, I felt like I had escaped the madness of the beach, but suddenly there was lots of screaming and people running through the old town. It seemed the news had just hit them."

Footage on social media showed crowds fleeing in panic.

The president of the Nice region, Eric Ciotti, was last night at the scene, where bodies were strewn along the road.

"It's a scene of horror," he said.

Local man Wassim Bouhel said he saw the truck drive into the crowd and then witnessed a man emerge with a gun and start shooting.

"There was carnage on the road," Bouhel said. "Bodies everywhere."

Another eyewitness told reporters: "We saw a white lorry which drove directly into people on the Promenade des Anglais. A gunman fired into the crowd before being shot by police."

While no one had claimed responsibility, the SITE Intel Group tweeted last night that "pro-ISIS groups" were celebrating.

A French reporter described seeing a white van driving at high speed onto the famed Promenade des Anglais as people were leaving after the annual Bastille Day celebration display.

"We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around," the reporter said, adding that the incident took place near the city's famed Hotel Negresco.

"Terrified pedestrians screamed as they fled the area. "It was absolute chaos.

Another eyewitness, Ellen Savin, tweeted: "Apparently, shots were fired by police to stop the truck. People jumped into the sea in fear."

A huge security cordon was established, closing off the city's central Place Massena.

It was also feared last night that gunmen were holding hostages in the Meridien Hotel, the Hotel Negresco and the Buffalo Grill restaurant. Security forces and ambulances raced to the scene, and authorities from the local Alpes-Maritimes prefecture urged residents to stay indoors.

Yesterday was a public holiday, celebrating the anniversary of the storming of Paris's Bastille prison in 1789 and the start of the French Revolution.

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