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France will continue battling terror despite attacks, vows Francois Hollande

Published 19/07/2016

People gather at the makeshift memorial to victims of the Nice truck attack (AP)
People gather at the makeshift memorial to victims of the Nice truck attack (AP)

French President Francois Hollande defended his government's military actions against Islamic extremists as he vowed to continue the fight against terror.

But Mr Hollande acknowledged the actions are part of the reason for repeated attacks on his country.

Speaking during a visit to Portugal, the president said France is so often targeted because of its traditions of liberty and human rights.

He said it is also "because France is fighting against terrorism, against fundamentalism, against fanaticism".

Mr Hollande said France will continue its military operations abroad, which include air strikes in Iraq and Syria, anti-terrorism operations in Africa and special operations in Libya, adding: "It is our honour and our duty."

He also urged politicians to approve an extension to the state of emergency in place since the deadly attacks in Paris on November 13.

Earlier, two more suspects in the Bastille Day lorry attack that killed 84 people were transferred to French intelligence headquarters in Paris to face likely terrorism charges.

The July 14 attack occurred when Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove through crowds watching fireworks on Nice's famed Promenade des Anglais on the French Riviera before he was shot by police.

The two suspects are among six people who remain in custody, according to an official at the Paris prosecutor's office.

Back in Nice, signs of normal life returned to the promenade, with joggers and visitors enjoying the sunshine, and businesses reopening.

But elsewhere in the city the grief was still raw as families said farewell to their loved ones and some demanded to know from the authorities how security measures had failed to prevent a man from driving a truck through crowds of revellers.

At the ar-Rahma mosque in the eastern Nice suburb of Ariane, worshippers held prayers for three of those killed in Thursday's attack, including four-year-old Kylan Mejri and his mother Olfa Kalfallah, 31.

"What happened mustn't tear society apart," said Abdelkader Sadouni, a Muslim imam from Nice, who called for unity in the face of an attack that indiscriminately hit men, women and children, Christian and Muslims, residents and foreign tourists enjoying France's national day fireworks together.

Mourners rallied around Kylan's father, Tahar Mejri, who carried his son's plain white coffin out to a waiting hearse.

Holding photos of his son, Mr Mejri spoke of his grief and described the moment that he arrived on the promenade to find his wife dead and Kylan's scooter lying on the floor. He spent all night going from one hospital to another before learning that his son had not survived.

Mr Mejri said he plans to sue the authorities over what happened.

"A festival like that with nearly 33,000 and the promenade was open," he said. "There was no security."

AP

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