French President Francois Hollande said Thursday's lethal attack on the southern city of Nice was clearly a terrorist assault and that the state of emergency imposed since a previous attack on Paris last November would be extended for another three months.
Speaking after an emergency meeting in the early hours of Friday morning, Hollande said at least 77 people were killed in an attack in which the assailant drove a big truck at high speed into dense crowds who were watching a fireworks display on the country's national Bastille Day holiday.
"There's no denying the terrorist nature of this attack of yet again the most extreme form of violence," the French leader said in a national television address at 4 a.m. (0200 GMT), about five or six hours after the carnage in Nice.
An Interior Ministry official said that the latest death toll rose to 84. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had said earlier that 80 people died and 18 were in a critical condition. Many more were also wounded in the attack along the famed seafront Promenade des Anglais as the fireworks ended just after 10:30 P.M. local time.
A police source said the assailant was a 31-year-old French citizen born in Tunisia. He was known to French police for common law crimes, but not to intelligence services, the source added.
U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the deadly attack in Nice and offered any assistance France needs to investigate.
"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," Obama said in a statement.
Presumptive Republican candidate for president Donald Trump tweeted out: "My prayers and condolences to the victims and families of the terrible tragedy in Nice, France. We are with you in every way!"
Trump also announced that in light of the attack, he would be postponing a press conference planned for Friday to announce his pick for vice president as he looks forward to running against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton as the primary season comes to a close.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also condemned the attack.
"Once again, it appears that terrorists have struck at one of our closest allies in Europe, attacking families celebrating the history and culture of their country on Bastille Day," she said.
"Every American stands in strong solidarity with the people of France, and we say with one voice: we will not be intimidated. We will never allow terrorists to undermine the egalitarian and democratic values that underpin our very way of life."
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now