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Attack in Nice of terrorist nature, says Hollande

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (2nd L) speaks to the media in Nice early on Friday as he visits the area where a truck ploughed into a crowd of people during Bastille Day celebrations.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (2nd L) speaks to the media in Nice early on Friday as he visits the area where a truck ploughed into a crowd of people during Bastille Day celebrations. ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP

French President François Hollande said on Friday that an attack which saw a truck plough into a crowd in Nice, killing 80 people, was clearly a “terrorist” act.

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While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack in the resort city, Hollande vowed to strengthen his country's role in the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

“Nothing will make us yield in our will to fight terrorism. We will further strengthen our actions in Iraq and in Syria. We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil,” he said, in reference to the IS group.

He vowed ever stronger security measures -- calling up reservists and extending a state of emergency -- as he reached for familiar, and new words to boost the morale of a battered nation.

“France is horrified by what has happened, this monstrosity which is using a truck to deliberately kill dozens of people who simply came to celebrate July 14. France was struck on its national day, a symbol of freedom,” said Hollande.

France “will always be stronger, I promise you, than the fanatics that want to strike it.”

The Islamic State group has repeatedly singled out France as a prime target for its military actions against the group in Iraq and Syria, and hundreds of jihadists have left France to go and fight in its ranks.

The country has been under a state of emergency ever since jihadists killed 130 in Paris on November 13, and the government has boosted its security laws.

While security forces will remain on high alert, Hollande also called on France's "operational reservists" to boost the ranks of police and gendarmes.

These include French citizens with or without military experience as well as former soldiers.

Obama condemns attack

US President Barack Obama strongly condemned what he said appeared to be a “horrific terrorist attack” in Nice.

At least 80 people were killed after a truck ploughed into a crowd after a Bastille Day fireworks display.

Offering assistance to investigate the attack, Obama vowed to help France “bring those responsible to justice.”

“On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians,” Obama said in a statement.

“We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack. We know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life," Obama added.

“On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world,” he added.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US embassy in Paris was attempting to account for American citizens in Nice.

“The United States will continue to stand firmly with the French people during this time of tragedy. We will provide whatever support is needed,” Kerry said in a statement.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton stressed the US need to “strengthen our alliances” with European partners and NATO.

“We've got to do more to understand that this is a war against these terrorist groups, the radical jihadist groups,” she said. “It's a different kind of war.”

She also called for “an intelligence surge” to improve information exchange across the Atlantic.

Her Republican counterpart, Donald Trump cancelled his Friday plans to announce a vice presidential running mate "out of respect for this horrific situation."

Trump said that if elected he would ask Congress for a "declaration of war" to combat global terrorism.

“This is war. If you look at it, this is war. Coming from all different parts,” Trump said.

“And we're dealing with people without uniforms. In the old days, we would have uniforms. You would know who you're fighting.”
The UN Security Council also strongly condemned the “barbaric and cowardly terrorist attack”.

- with AFP

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