'This cruel attack has struck innocents celebrating their national day'

People react in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 15, 2016, after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display. Photo: Valery Hache/ AFP/ Getty Images.

As many as 70 people have been killed in an attack in Nice, France.

A truck plowed into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday before the driver of the truck opened fire on the pedestrians.

He was then shot dead by police.

The nationalities of those who have died is not yet known.

The Australian Embassy in Paris is making urgent enquiries to determine whether any Australians have been affected by the incident.

“If you have any concerns for the welfare of family and friends in the region you should attempt to contact them directly,” the department of foreign affairs told Business Insider.

“If you are unable to contact them and still hold concerns for their welfare you should call the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 if calling from overseas.”

Telstra is currently offering free calls and texts to France but have asked customers to keep in mind that disruption to services in France may impact calls getting through.

The Governor-General of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, has shared his sympathies for the French people on Facebook.

“We are in shock tonight in Paris as we learn about the tragic events unfolding in Nice,” he wrote.

“On a day where Australians marched alongside their French counterparts this cruel attack has struck innocents celebrating their national day. Our deepest thoughts and sympathies are with the government and people of France.”

See the post here.

Greg Barton a terrorism expert from Deakin University told Sky this morning that the incident had all the hallmarks of a deliberate attack.

“All of these elements suggest a deliberate attack, mostly likely a terror attack and balance of probability something linked to Islamic State,” Barton said.

“Maybe its just one individual, maybe a small cell of individuals but the best defence against these attacks is intelligence and if you’re dealing with a lone wolf… you often don’t get that intelligence opportunity.”

He said a large truck was an effective terrorist strategy and that the approach suggested links to ISIS.

“The pattern of these attacks is yes, someone will repeat this. Likely Islamic State will try and repeat this pattern now this has been proven.”

Australian traveller Marcus Freeman was walking back from the Bastille Day fireworks when the attack occurred.

He told the ABC that partygoers initially mistook the gunfire for fireworks. The chaos broke loose.

“People ran through the streets, absolutely fearing the likelihood of getting shot,” he said describing scenes of people falling over as they ran.

“We went to our hotel room and we’re currently right here in lockdown so we don’t know what’s going on. We brought in about 10 people from the street and they’re currently in our hotel room, and it’s just mayhem,” he said. Read more here.

Photo: Valery Hache/ AFP/ Getty Images.

NOW READ: HORROR IN FRANCE: Up to 70 reported killed as truck plows into Bastille Day crowd

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