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Palestinian leaders condemn attack in France, declare support for French people

July 15, 2016 1:21 P.M. (Updated: July 19, 2016 12:15 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian leaders sent their condolences to French President Francois Hollande and the French people on Friday, following an attack Thursday night that left at least 84 people killed, including children, and at least 100 injured when a man deliberately drove a lorry into crowds during national celebrations in Nice, France.

According to the Palestinian national news agency Wafa, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other members of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) declared their support and solidarity with the French people and the families of the victims, while condemning the attack which international media have deemed a “terrorist attack” reportedly carried out by a 31-year-old French-Tunisian. However, no groups have claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement issued on Friday, Hamas also expressed solidarity with families of the dead and injured, saying they reject all forms of extremism and terrorism.

Local witnesses reported that the attacker swerved from side to side in an attempt to hit as many people as possible, while driving at a high speed, The Guardian newspaper reported.

According to CNN, the attacker was shot dead by police after an exchange of live fire between police forces and the attacker. Large crowds in the area were congregated to watch firework celebrations for Bastille Day, a national holiday commemorating the birth of the French republic.

Spokesperson of the Palestinian government Youssef al-Mahmoud also joined Abbas in condemning the attack, calling it “brutal and cowardly,” adding that the Palestinian government and people were pained by the attack and supported the French government and people.

Al-Mahmoud also called for international unity supporting values of peace, while concentrating on ending violence and hatred.

PLO Secretary General Dr. Saeb Erekat also condemned the attacks in a statement released Friday, stating that "Palestine firmly stands in solidarity with France in this painful time, we extend our sympathies and condolences to the families of the deceased and wish a speedy recovery for those injured."

Meanwhile, the Spokesman of Fatah for European Affairs Jamal Nazzal condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement.

"Our people, who have endured all forms of state terrorisms at the hand of a violent foreign occupation for decades now, feel the pain of the French people as they stand firm in the face of the sinister forces of evil which must be fought," the statement read.

"It is time for unity, not only in France, but in the world at large, in order to fight all forms of oppressive authorities and in particular those who try to dominate over other people’s lives," Nazzal said, adding that he "strongly believes that terrorist groups can benefit from the violence Israel is committing against Palestinians to mind wash and recruit potential terrorists throughout the world."

"We count on France's role in the world to fight for freedom and justice as we believe it will overcome these hard circumstances," the statement concluded.

The attack in Nice came eight months after 130 people in Paris were killed after coordinated shootings and suicide bombings were carried out throughout the city, reportedly claimed by the Islamic State. Hollande responded at the time by declaring a state of emergency, as police forces conducted widespread raids throughout the city.

Hollande also announced on Friday that the state of emergency would be extended for three more months as of July 26, according to Al Jazeera, reversing an earlier announcement made by Hollande on Thursday before the attack that the eight-month-long state of emergency would be lifted.

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