France to debate security as Nice victims still being identified

French lawmakers were set to debate an extension to the country's state of emergency measures on Tuesday, as some of the victims were still being identified after an attack in Nice last week that left 84 people dead.

The state of emergency measures, implemented after terrorist attacks around Paris in November in which 130 people were killed, were set to expire at the end of July. With the rampage on Bastille Day in Nice, the third large-scale act on French soil in 19 months, officials are puzzling over how the seemingly lone attacker radicalized so quickly.

While officials have said that France continues to face a extremely high security threat, French President Francois Hollande said in a television interview last week that there was no need to extend the measures as legal mechanisms to fight against terrorism had been ramped up in parliament.

That changed after the attack in Nice. Hollande said in the hours after a truck ploughed down a crowded 2-kilometre strip in the southern city during Bastille Day celebrations that the emergency measures would be extended.

Some parts of the emergency measures that had not been approved for extension through the summer sporting events that France hosted were set to be reincorporated - including police power to conduct house searches without a warrant, a government spokesman said.

A debate has erupted in France over whether the government has done enough to protect the country, despite having taken a series of steps to ramp up security.

But officials are still trying to find formal ties between the man identified as the Nice attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, and terrorist networks.

While Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the 31-year-old, Tunisian-born truck driver had not shown signs of radicalization until just weeks before the attack, prosecutors said.

In Nice, the seaside promenade that was targeted was re-opening to traffic, as flowers and tributes accumulated near the place where 84 people were killed and more than 300 injured last week.

Two German school students and a teacher on a class trip to Nice were among victims of the attack, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday.

The students were part of a group of 28 students from the Paula-Fuerst school in Berlin, who had joined celebrations on Nice's seafront promenade marking France's national day.

Five Italians were also among the victims, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry.

Last update: Tue, 19/07/2016 - 13:55
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