France President Francois Hollande said in a nationally televised address Friday the “terrorist character” of the attack in Nice, in which a truck plowed into a crowd of Bastille celebrants and killed dozens, could not be denied, and that his government was extending, rather than ending, its declared state of national emergency.
In a somewhat shocking statement, another France official, a prime minister in Paris, also said that it’s time for the country to “live with terrorism,” suggesting residents learn to integrate defensive maneuvers into daily life, the New York Times reported.
Hollande’s extension of a national state of emergency was a complete flip-flop of a public statement he had made just hours earlier. Right before the Nice attacks, Hollande had proclaimed the national emergency the country had been living under would come to an end on July 26, the New York Times reported. That national emergency had been declared right after terrorists struck Paris in November 2015.
But for now, the state of national emergency declaration will remain intact, he said.
“France has been struck on the day of her national holiday,” Hollande said, on local media. “Human rights are denied by fanatics and France is clearly their target.”
CNN reported Hollande also said of the attack, which started when a man driving a truck, identified by French media as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, age 31, first fired a gun into a crowd and then accelerated into dozens, killing at least 84: “We cannot deny that it was a terror attack.”
Bouhlel, who was officially named as the attacker by a senior French government official as well as an anti-terrorism official, was killed by police at the scene. Police sources speaking to Thompson-Reuters also confirmed the name, age and background of Bouhlel as the suspect on Friday.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls, meanwhile, called on Friday for the country to observe three days of mourning, beginning Saturday.
“We would like to tell the French people that we will never give in,” he said, during a press statement outside the Elysee Palace in Paris, the New York Times reported. “We will not give in to the terrorist threat. The times have changed and France is going to have to live with terrorism.”
President Obama weighed in from the White House, and pledged to help France however possible.
“On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack,” he said, in a statement. “We have offered any assistance that they may need to investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice. We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack.”
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called the attack “horrific” as well, and in a tweet, suggested the war on terrorism was only growing more deadly.
“Another horrific attack,” he tweeted, “this time in Nice, France. Many dead and injured. When will we learn? It is only getting worse.”
Trump postponed his scheduled Friday announcement of his vice presidential pick due to the attacks.
And on Fox News on Thursday evening, he called the terrorism atmosphere around the world “crazy,” the Hill reported.
“It sounds like here we go again,” Trump said. “We’re living in a whole different world. There’s no respect for law and order. This is crazy what’s going on. It’s a horrible thing. It’s bedlam … We have to get awfully tough and we have to get smart or we’re not going to have a society, we’re not going to have a world anymore.”
Likely Democratic presidential pick Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, echoed Obama and Trump in terms of calling the attack “horrific,” and said what’s needed is more intelligence on the ground.
“What is happening is terrorist groups are seeing that they have opportunities inside France for homegrown terrorism and supporting terrorists,” she said in a telephone interview with CNN. “We are at war with the terrorist groups and what they represent. It’s a different kind of war, and we need to be smart about how we wage it and win it.”
She also specified the West, including the United States, needed to inject an “intelligence surge” into the war on terrorism.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 84 and injured more than 100.