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France falls silent for victims of Nice truck carnage
Photo: AFP

France falls silent for victims of Nice truck carnage

The Local/AFP · 18 Jul 2016, 10:11

Published: 18 Jul 2016 10:11 GMT+02:00

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The minute of silence was observed across France at midday on Monday, a now grimly familiar ritual after the third major terror attack in 18 months on French soil.
Thousands gathered in Nice along the Promenade des Anglais, the same walkway that was the setting for Thursday's attack that saw 84 killed. 
Crowds stood in silence, while some took part in a sombre rendition of the national anthem - La Marseillaise. 
And some booed when Prime Minister Manuel Valls showed up in the Riviera Town of Nice, with at least one woman calling loudly for his resignation. 
Valls later condemned as "disgraceful" the boos he endured, and said the jeers and calls for him to resign reflected the "attitude of a minority" in the city run by the opposition Republicans party.
IN PICS: Thousands gather in Nice for minute's silence
Laura Tobin, who lives near Nice, says the the community remains in shock four days after the Bastille Day carnage.
"Everyone is impacted, both directly and indirectly. People are trying to go on with their lives, but they're doing it in fear," she told The Local. 
Meanwhile, French investigators have yet to find links between attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, the 31-year-old Tunisian who drove the truck, and the Islamic State group which claimed responsibility for the carnage, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Monday. 
"We cannot exclude that an unbalanced and very violent individual" has been "through a rapid radicalisation, committed to this absolutely despicable crime," he said.
Six people were in custody on Monday including a 38-year-old Albanian suspected of providing Lahouaiej-Bouhlel with a pistol he used to fire at police during the attack.
Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot dead after zigzagging 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.
'Shameful' politicians 
While previous attacks saw grand displays of national unity, any semblance of cohesion quickly unravelled after the Nice massacre and main opposition leader Nicolas Sarkozy joins a long line of opposition politicians who have criticised the government.
Cazeneuve described the politicians as "shameful".
"Certain members of the political class have not respected the mourning period. Arguments broke out right away which personally saddens and shocks me," he said.
The frustration of the French was writ large in some of the messages left among flowers and tributes on Nice's seafront.
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"Enough with the speeches" and "Sick of carnage in our streets", the messages read.
The government has sought to fend off criticism, assuring that security at the Bastille Day event was high and scrambling to reassure citizens about their safety.
Cazeneuve called for volunteers to boost the security forces who were already on high alert under an eight-month-old state of emergency.
"I want to call on all French patriots who wish to do so, to join this operational reserve," said Cazeneuve of a force currently made up of 12,000 volunteers aged between 17 and 30.
The latest attack comes after a French parliamentary inquiry last week criticised numerous failings by the intelligence services following jihadist assaults in January and November last year.
France is a prime target of Isis, due to its role in fighting the group in Iraq and Syria, its emphasis on secular values, and what the government has admitted is a "social and ethnic apartheid" that alienates its large Muslim community.

The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

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