Nice survivor relives atrocity

Picture of Suneil Sharma (ex-NI Policing Board) in Nice, France.
Picture of Suneil Sharma (ex-NI Policing Board) in Nice, France.

A Belfast man who survived the terrorist atrocity in Nice last year has told of his shock that European cities are still being targeted in vehicle attacks.

Suneil Sharma, a businessman from south Belfast and former member of the Policing Board, was among those present as gunman Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel purposely ran over pedestrians in the southern French city in July 2016, killing 86 people and injuring hundreds more.

At the time, Mr Sharma described the incident as a “new form of terror”.

Since then, there has been a wave of similar vehicle attacks carried out by Islamic terrorists in European cities, including Berlin, Stockholm and London, resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries across the continent.

Mr Sharma, who was born in the Province after his parents had migrated here from India in the 1950s – said the latest attack in Barcelona reminded him “how lucky I am to be alive”.

The 58-year-old told the News Letter: “I never imagined that attacks like the one in Nice would become a regular occurrence.

“Every time there is another low-tech attack of this nature, it brings those terrible memories flooding back.”

But Mr Sharma has urged people not to let these attacks “drive a wedge between communities”.

He added: “We must be careful not to play into the hands of terrorists by looking at certain members of society with suspicion simply because of their race or religion.

“There is no way to keep people 100% safe, but we must not be deterred from going about our lives.

“We must go on with our lives; these terrorists will not win.”