NICE, France, July 15 (UPI) — French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared three days of national mourning beginning Saturday for the 84 people, including at least 10 children, killed in what is now being called a terrorist attack on a Bastille Day celebration in Nice.
President Francois Hollande said in a televised address Friday the attack had “undeniable” terrorist characteristics and said the deliberate use of a large commerical truck to mow down spectators was “a monstrosity.”
He announced the government would request a three-month extension of the state of emergency put into place after the November attacks in Paris that left 130 dead. It was set to expire July 26.
“France has been struck on the day of her national holiday,” Hollande said. “Human rights are denied by fanatics, and France is clearly their target.”
About 10:30 p.m., a box truck plowed into a crowd on the main street in Nice, Promenade des Anglais, where hundreds were gathered to watch the fireworks for France’s national day. The driver also fired on the crowd along the 1.3 mile route before being shot dead by police.
Among the dead are two U.S. nationals, the U.S. State Department said. Sean Copeland, 51, and his son, Brodie, 11, of Lakeway, Texas, were vacationing in Nicewith their family. A 21-year-old Russian woman was also killed.
There have been no claims of responsibility although Islamic State supporters have been celebrating the attack on social media, The Wall Street Journal reported. The driver has not been officially identified but multiple news agencies have reported the identification card of a 31-year-old French man of Tunisian descent was found in the truck.
World leaders spoke out in response to the attack. The prime ministers of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, India, Israel, New Zealand, Turkey and the president of the European Council, are among the many who condemned the attack on social media. Shaqki Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, the country’s highest Muslim religious authority, called the attack “despicable” and said Islamic teachings “never called for bloodshed or the killing of innocents regardless of their beliefs and faith.”
“The only way for us is to cooperate with each other on all levels to confront this extremist thought that now threatens the entire world and is no longer limited to a specific region,” he said.