Sorry, your browser is unable to play this video. Crowds run from scene of truck attack in Nice
In that sense, at least, the attack in Nice echoes the others that have taken place in two of the worst years France has experienced since the Nazi occupation. In Paris, besides a national stadium full of French football fans, the targets were places where people would come together to socialise. In the Charlie Hebdo shootings, it was the free speech on which France like other countries prides itself that the militants were attacking.
Besides those atrocities, France also suffered in August 2015 when a gunman opened fire on a high-speed train that was carrying more than 500 people, before he was overpowered by three Americans two of whom were soldiers and a British passenger.
The gunman had several weapons in his luggage, including a Kalashnikov, an automatic pistol and razor blades.
In June this year a man with a previous terrorism conviction stabbed a police commander and his wife to death at their home outside Paris and streamed the attack on Facebook.
In response to previous major attacks, French people came together. They met at the Place de la Rpublique the large square in eastern Paris that holds huge symbolic meaning for many French people. They also came together in the immediate aftermath offering
PortesOuvertes (open doors) to those seeking shelter. They did so again on Thursday night and it remains to be seen if and where they will gather to mark the passing of yet another night of violence.
Security forces across
Europe and the US were also formulating a response. Barack Obama condemned what he said was appeared to be a horrific terrorist incident and offered any assistance that may be need to investigate it.
The UK Foreign Office called on all Britons in France to exercise caution and follow the instructions of local law enforcement officials. Initial details suggested a tactic which jihadi propaganda has suggested for several years, with a vehicle ploughing into a crowd. Inspire magazine, affiliated with al-Qaida, urged the tactic several years ago.