July 2016 – FRANCE – France has called up 12,000 police reservists to help boost security after Thursday’s attack in Nice in which more than 80 people were killed. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also appealed to “all willing French patriots” to sign up as reservists, to help protect the country’s borders. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a lorry along the sea front through crowds before police shot him dead. So-called Islamic State claimed one of its followers carried out the attack.
A news agency linked to the group, Amaq Agency, said: “He did the attack in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition that is fighting the Islamic State.” Five people believed to be linked to Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, including his estranged wife, are in police custody, the Paris prosecutor’s office said. France, which on Saturday began three days of mourning, already has 120,000 police and military deployed around the country. Its 12,000 reservists are made up of 9,000 military police officers and a further 3,000 regular police officers. “I want to call on all French patriots who wish to do so, to join this operational reserve,” Mr. Cazeneuve said.
Some 30,000 people were on the Promenade des Anglais at the time of the attack on Thursday night. Of the 84 who died, 10 were children. A total of 303 people had been taken into hospital following the attacks, the French health department confirmed on Saturday. Of those, 121 remain in hospital, 30 of whom are children, and 26 people are still in intensive care – including five children. Residents of Nice and foreign tourists were killed, among them four French citizens, three Algerians, a teacher and two schoolchildren from Germany, three Tunisians, two Swiss, two Americans, a Ukrainian, an Armenian and a Russian.
Previously, Mr Cazeneuve said Lahouaiej-Bouhlel seemed to have been “radicalized very quickly,” urging that this was a “new type of attack…[and] showed the extreme difficulty of the fight against terrorism.” Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian, drove the lorry 2km (1.2 miles) along the promenade, at times zig-zagging to target people, prosecutors said. French President Francois Hollande met with his defense and security chiefs and cabinet ministers on Saturday and called for national unity in France. He said: “We are in a time when, and we have seen it, there is a temptation to divide the country. Faced with these temptations, faced with this risk, we must recall the unity and cohesion of this country.”
Mr. Hollande, who said the attack was a terrorist act, has already moved to extend a state of emergency by three months. A state of emergency has been in place across France since the Paris attacks carried out by militants from the so-called Islamic State group. The 13 November attacks left 130 people dead. Mr. Hollande had proposed lifting the state of emergency on 26 July, but reversed his decision after the Nice attack. Meanwhile, France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen has called for national service to be brought back, and a national guard to be created to protect France in the wake of Nice attacks.
Speaking in Nanterre, on the outskirts of Paris, she said the budget for the armed forces should be increased. She also called on Mr. Cazeneuve to resign and said that France had the means to defend itself, but that its leaders were too weak to do it. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was known to the police as a petty criminal, but was “totally unknown to intelligence services… and was never flagged for signs of radicalization,” prosecutor Francois Molins said. –BBC