France falls silent for Nice victims, politicians bicker
A sea of people thronged the Nice promenade for the emotional minute’s silence just days after a Tunisian attacker drove a truck into a crowd at the same place on Bastille Day, killing 84 people and injuring around 300.
Similar gatherings were held across the country, with the minute’s silence accompanied by the ringing of church bells.Prime Minister Manual Valls was booed and faced shouts of “resign” as he arrived and left the seaside promenade in Nice, in a sign of the anger and bitterness gripping France after its third major terror attack in 18 months.
French investigators have yet to find links between attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian, and the Islamic State group which claimed responsibility for Thursday’s carnage, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told France’s RTL radio.
He defended government efforts to halt terror attacks, calling for “dignity and truth” from fiercely critical opposition politicians as the national mood soured further nine months ahead of a presidential election.
France was wrapping up a three-day period of national mourning after Lahouaiej-Bouhlel zigzagged a 19-tonne truck through a crowd of tourists, locals and families enjoying a fireworks display in the Riviera city of Nice on Bastille Day.
“We must not move on too quickly. We need to exorcise our demons, to talk about it, to gather together,” said Philippe Gambino, who has visited the Promenade des Anglais every day since the attack, where candles and flowers form a makeshift memorial.
The attack came eight months after IS jihadists killed 130 people across Paris, and 18 months after three days of terror at the Charlie Hebdo weekly and a Jewish supermarket killed 17.
Former president and main opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy said on Sunday that “everything that should have been done the past 18 months was not done”.
“We are at war, outright war. So I will use strong words: it will be us or them,” he said.
While previous attacks saw grand displays of national unity, there was no semblance of cohesion after the Nice massacre, with Sarkozy joining a long line of opposition politicians who have accused the government of not doing enough to protect the French.