Global leaders react with horror, revulsion
ULAANBAATAR/ MOSCOW: World leaders united in horror and pledged their determination to fight terrorism after a truck attack on a Bastille Day crowd in the French Riviera city of Nice killed 84 people.
Russian president Vladimir Putin, whose relations with the West have been strained over Ukraine and Syria, went on Russian television to convey his condolences to French president Francois Hollande after apparently being unable to reach him by telephone.
“Dear Francois, Russia knows what terror is and the threats that it creates for all of us.
“Our people have more than once encountered similar tragedies and is deeply affected by the incident, sympathises with the French people and feels solidarity with them,” he said, adding that Russian citizens were among the victims in Nice.
US president Barack Obama, Putin and European and Asian leaders meeting for a summit in Mongolia joined in condemnation of what they called a terrorist attack in messages to Hollande.
European Council president Donald Tusk captured the global shock when he tweeted of the “tragic paradox that the subject of #NiceAttack was the people celebrating liberty, equality and fraternity”.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said: “All of us who have come together at the summit are united in our feeling of disbelief at the attack of mass murder in Nice.”
British prime minister Theresa May said Britain stood “shoulder to shoulder” with France.
In France, far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, expected to do well in next year’s presidential election, faulted the country’s response to past attacks.
“The war on the scourge of Islamist fundamentalism has not begun. It is urgent now that it be declared,” she said on Twitter.
Presumptive US Repub- lican nominee Donald Trump also tried to make a political point in reacting to the carnage, tweeting: “Another horrific attack, this time in Nice, France. Many dead and injured. When will we learn? It is only getting worse.”
Polish interior minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the attacks were “consequences of decades of a policy of multiculturalism and political correctness” in the EU.
Poland’s right-wing nationalist government has refused to take in Muslim migrants and refugees under an EU quota scheme.
In the Middle East, many messages of sympathy and condemnation were laced with domestic agendas. Saudi Arabia’s top clerical body condemned the French attack but said it should not distract the world from “the crimes of the Syrian regime”.
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan, whose country was hit recently by a gun and bomb attack on Istanbul airport by suspected Islamic State militants, said Turks could understand what France and the French people were going through.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose settlement policies on Palestinian land have been criticised by France and other countries, said Israel stood ready “to help the French government fight this evil until it is defeated”.
Italy, Spain, Germany, Britain and Belgium, all of which are neighbours of France, held separate meetings to review their own security after the Nice attack, which came just after the French had successfully hosted the Euro 2016 soccer tournament and launched a massive security operation during it. – Reuters