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French state of emergency extended for another six months

The scene after a large truck killed 84 revellers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice last week
Staff Reporter

FRENCH parliamentarians have voted to extend the nation's state of emergency for another six months and Paris officials have cancelled some summer events due to security fears following last week's deadly truck attack in Nice.

The moves came as authorities said all 84 people killed in the Bastille Day atrocity in the southern French city have now been formally identified.

No official list naming the dead has been released, but it is known they include people from France, the US, Germany, Ukraine, Switzerland, Tunisia, Poland and Russia.

French president Francois Hollande said 15 truck attack victims are still in a life-threatening condition in hospital.

France's national assembly voted to extend the state of emergency - a security measure which has been in place since the November 13 Paris attacks that left 130 dead and were claimed by the Islamic State group (IS).

The French Senate later approved the extension.

Officials say five unidentified people remain in custody for possible links to the Nice truck attack and could face terrorism charges.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack, but investigators believe attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was inspired by their calls and not directly commanded by the extremist group.

Authorities are braced for copycat attacks. Paris police have cancelled events including open-air free movie showings and a car-free day on the city's Champs-Elysees boulevard.

Police are also deploying in larger numbers around Paris Plages, a month-long beach event that kicked off on Wednesday with sand and summer activities on embankments along the Seine.

Paris police will now use concrete barriers to block areas with large crowds in the hopes of preventing the kind of carnage that occurred in Nice, when the truck driver rammed his vehicle through a crowd of pedestrians.

About 30 victims were from the southern region's large Muslim community, according to Kawthar Ben Salem of the Union of Muslims of Alpes-Maritime.

A special service for the truck victims is planned for Thursday at the Ar-Rahma mosque.

There are growing fears of a backlash against moderate Muslims because of the attacker's extremist views and because Nice has long been a breeding ground for Islamic radicals.

French prime minister Manuel Valls, however, warned against blaming Muslims and heightening social tensions.

"We must protect all our compatriots. We should, of course, also protect our Muslim compatriots ... who today are also afraid, and feel blamed," he told assembly members.

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