French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has declared three days of national mourning following an attack in the southern city of Nice that killed at least 84 people, including several children.
Valls told reporters on Friday that the mourning will begin from Saturday, noting that the government decided to extend the state of emergency that has been in force in France since the November attacks in Paris until October.
On Thursday night, a driver drove a truck at high speed into a large crowd of people who had gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice.
The truck plowed into the crowd over a distance of two kilometers on the Promenade des Anglais while hitting people, including children, who were celebrating the Bastille Day which is a national holiday.
Police sources said the driver is a 31-year-old Franco-Tunisian man whose identity papers were found in the truck. They did not release his name, but said he lived in Nice.
Broadcast footage showed a scene of horror in the area, with broken bodies left on the asphalt, some piled near one another and some others bleeding.
The driver zigzagged the truck in an attempt to hit more people, before being shot dead by police.
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said scores were also injured in the incident, including 18 in critical condition.
Valls said after an emergency government meeting that “terrorism is a threat that weighs heavily upon France and will continue to weigh for a long time.”
“We are facing a war that terrorism has brought to us. The goal of terrorists is to instill fear and panic. And France is a great country, and a great democracy that will not allow itself to be destabilized,” he added.
French President Francois Hollande denounced “this monstrosity” and said the move was an instance of “absolute violence.”
Hollande also said it was not immediately clear whether the driver had accomplices.
An investigation into “murder and attempted murder in an organized group linked to a terrorist enterprise” was opened at Paris prosecutor’s office.
World mourns Nice victims
On Friday, Iran condemned the fatal incident in Nice as a “criminal terrorist attack” and extended sympathy to the French nation over the tragic deaths.
In a Friday statement, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi described terrorism as “an ominous phenomenon, which could not be dealt with except through international cooperation and consensus.”
“In confronting terror, any negligence and [resort to] double standards are morally wrong and doomed to failure,” the Iranian official added.
Russia also said it stands in solidarity with France “during these difficult days.”
Moscow “fully shares the pain over the deaths of a large number of people, possibly including children,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Meanwhile, world leaders censured the attack and expressed their support for France.
US President Barack Obama condemned the incident as “a horrific terrorist attack.”
European Council president Donald Tusk said it was a “tragic paradox” as people were celebrating “liberty, equality and fraternity” when the incident happened.