France observes minute of silence in honour of Nice attack victims

Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP | Children sit next to a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Nice attacks on July 16, 2016

Thousands of people gathered in the southern French city of Nice on Monday to observe a minute of silence in honour of the victims of last week’s Bastille Day truck attack, which claimed the lives of 84 people and left dozens more injured.


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The minute of silence was held at noon local time across France, including Nice’s famed Promenade des Anglais, where Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel – a Tunisian citizen residing in the city – ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, France’s national holiday, on Thursday night.

In the days since the attack, details have emerged about the victims, who included three generations of the same family, a man protecting his pregnant wife, and at least one visiting student from the prestigious University of California Berkeley.

‘People here are very unhappy with what happened and targeted their anger at politicians’

François Locatelli, 82, and his wife Christiane, 78, were out for a stroll on the Promenade des Anglais with their daughter, Véronique Lion, 55, and their 28-year-old grandson Michael Pellegrini on Bastille Day when Lahouaiej-Bouhlel barrelled down the walkway, killing all three.

Lion’s husband, Cristophe, miraculously survived the attack, but his parents, Germain and Gisèlle Lion, who were 68 and 63-years-old, died.

Timothé Gournier, a 27-year-old Parisian, was killed after pushing his seven-months pregnant wife out of the truck’s path, his cousin Anaïs told AFP. "He was a great guy," she said. "A young dreamer, but someone who was always there for his family."

Yanis, a 'rascal'

Also on the Promenade des Anglais that fateful night was a group of 85 students from University of California Berkeley, who were in Nice as part of a 15-day study-abroad trip on entrepreneurship in Europe. Among them was Nicolas Leslie, 20, who was killed after being struck by Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s vehicle. Three other students were also injured in the incident.

“This is tragic, devastating news,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said in a statement released Sunday. “All of us in the UC Berkeley family - both here on campus, and around the world - are heartbroken to learn that another promising young student has been lost to senseless violence.”

Ten children were tragically killed in the attack, including four-year-old Yanis C., whom his father Michael described to local media as “a rascal, a scallywag, always smiling”. The young boy was playing with a group of other children a few feet from his parents when he was hit.

Mehdi H., 12, was killed in the attack, which left his twin sister in a coma. His father, a football referee from Nice, also lost his sister-in-law in the tragedy.

Amie V., also 12, was the daughter of a Nice-based magazine journalist. She died after being struck by the truck.

A father and son from Texas

A Texas-based newspaper identified two Americans killed in the attack as baseball coach Sean Copeland, 51, and his 11-year-old son Brodie, who were on a family vacation in Europe. "They are so loved," the Austin American-Statesman quoted the family as saying in a statement.

Victoria Savchenko, a 20-year-old student from Russia, was also on holiday in Nice when she was killed.

Former soldier Igor Sheleshko, 47, a father-of-four who held both Russian and Belgian nationality was another victim of the attack. He had been living in Nice for four months, said Andrey Eliseev, arch-priest of the Saint-Nicolas cathedral who described him as "a pious man".

The priest named another victim as Roman Ekmaliyan, a Georgian businessman of Armenian origin who had lived in Belgium. The 56-year-old was "very intelligent on all topics – interested in history, politics".

Robert Marchand, 60, was an athletics trainer from Marcigny, a small town in central France. He had raised the town's club "to a very high level", mayor Louis Poncet told AFP.

Also killed was border police commissioner Emmanuel Grout, 45, who was off duty on the day of the attack, local media said.

David Bonnet, a 44-year-old fish farmer, was out on the Promenade des Anglais with his new partner, who escaped the attack with an injury.


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