World leaders offer solidarity in terrorism fight

Tributes at the French embassy in London. Picture: AFP/Getty
Tributes at the French embassy in London. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK must redouble its efforts to defeat terrorism, as she condemned the “horrifying” Bastille Day attack in Nice.

Mrs May said she wanted to “make clear that the United Kingdom stands shoulder-to-shoulder with France today as we have done so often in the past”.

She went on: “If, as we fear, this was a terrorist attack, then we must redouble our efforts to defeat these brutal murderers who want to destroy our way of life. We must work with France and our partners around the world to stand up for our values and for our ­freedom.”

World leaders were united in their outpouring of sympathy as flags flew at half-mast and candlelight vigils were held to honour the victims.

US president Barack Obama condemned the attack and said he had instructed American officials to work with their French counterparts to investigate it and “bring those responsible to justice”.

He said: “On behalf of the American people, I condemn in the strongest terms what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and other loved ones of those killed, and we wish a full recovery for the many wounded.

“We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack.

“On this Bastille Day, we are reminded of the extraordinary resilience and democratic values that have made France an inspiration to the entire world, and we know that the character of the French Republic will endure long after this devastating and tragic loss of life.”

German chancellor Angela Merkel condemned what she described as “mass murder”.

She said: “All of us … are ­united in our feeling of disbelief at the attack of mass ­murder in Nice.

“Germany stands in the fight against terrorism at France’s side, united with many, many others. I am convinced that, despite all the difficulties, we shall win this fight.”

In Australia, Brisbane’s City Hall was lit up in blue, white and red for the people of France, while people gathered in central Sydney and sang the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.

In Tunisia, where the truck driver was born, president Beji Caid Essebsi met French ambassador Francois Gouyette to express his country’s condolences after what Tunisia said was a “cowardly attack”. The president also called for solidarity in the fight against terrorism.

A number of spontaneous vigils were held in cities across the world including London, San Francisco and Tokyo. In Moscow, people took home-made posters saying “Pray for Nice” and “Stay Strong”, and left flowers and candles at the French Consulate.

In Scotland flags were lowered to half-mast at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and at government buildings.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the people of France had already had to endure more terrorism-related incidents that any country should have to deal with.

She said: “I have spoken already to the consul-general to France here in Edinburgh to convey our condolences and our deep sadness at this attack, but also our solidarity in the fight against terrorism.”

At The Open in Troon, Nice-based golfer Clément Sordet wore a cap with “Pray for France” written on it.

Sordet – who lives 500 yards from where the attack took place – said he greatly appreciated the other players wearing black ribbons, and the French flag being flown at half mast on the grandstand next to the 18th green.

He said: “Other players have said they send their prayers. It was nice touch with the black ribbons, although it is pretty sad to have to take them out of the box.”

In Glasgow, where players from 52 countries, including France, are competing in the 2016 Homeless World Cup, Mel Young, co-founder of the event, said all players had been affected by the attack.

He said: “We’re devastated at this loss of life, and for the people of France and every country affected by this atrocity.

“We stand together with our friends from Team France today, shoulder to shoulder, providing all the support they need.”