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France commemorates Bastille Day attack in Nice

Anne-Christine Poujoulat, AFP | Nice remembers the victims of the attack, 14 July 2017.
4 min

French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Nice after Bastille Day celebrations Friday to commemmorate the first anniversary of the truck attack that left 86 people dead on the Promenade des Anglais.


In the place of fireworks this year on the seafront boulevard, there will be candles and a memory book.

Nice began commemorations on Thursday night to mourn and remember victims of the tragedy, with a Mass in the city's Sainte-Réparate Cathedral attended by Mayor Christian Estrosi.

After Bastille Day celebrations in Paris alongside US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron travelled to Nice to commemorate the first anniversary of the attack that left 86 people dead on the Promenade des Anglais.

In a sign of national mourning that transcends political divides, Macron's predecessors  François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy flew with him to Nice on the presidential plane. They will also attend commemorative events, in the company of other prominent French politicians including François de Rugy, President of the National Assembly, and Gérard Larcher, President of the Senate.

Mark Owen reports from Nice

As the city remembers those who died one year ago, the president will give a solemn speech during the commemorations in Nice tonight, after a series of public, personal tributes to the victims of the attack.

“It seems important to the President to recall the meaning of the national holiday which now has the peculiarity of also being the anniversary of an attack that France mourns,” an Élysée Palace source told AFP.

The attack took place last year when a truck plowed into a crowd along Nice's popular beach-side promenade where revellers had gathered to celebrate Bastille Day.

Panicked crowds fled as the truck mowed people down on the Promenade des Anglais. The attack ended with an exchange of gunfire in which police shot and killed the perpetrator, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian resident of France. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. 

The attack left a "gaping wound", said local Emilie Petitjean, who lost her nine-year-old son and has been tasked by a victims' association with planning a ceremony on behalf of 76 families.

"It's a recognition. Everyone knows we have suffered. I don't expect to get better, but I expect Nice to be honoured," she said.

On Thursday French daily Le Monde criticised thelevel of security planned for the commemoration in Nice, saying it was insufficient given France’s current high terror alert. The paper argued that the measures fall short of the ultra-tight security put in place in Nice when it hosted last year’s EURO 2016 football tournament.

More than 130,000 security and emergency service workers have been deployed to protect revellers during this year's Bastille Day celebrations, according to France's interior ministry.

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789 – the start of the French Revolution and a turning point in world history.

Terror attacks in France have killed more than 230 people since January 2015. Interior Minister Gérard Collomb says seven terror plots have been foiled since the start of this year.

France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, when 130 people were slaughtered in a wave of co-ordinated violence across Paris, with French lawmakers voting last week to extend it for the sixth time.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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