World leaders condemn deadly knife attack in France

(NST) – World leaders condemned Thursday’s deadly stabbings in the French city of Nice, which authorities are investigating as a terrorist act, and expressed solidarity with France.

Condemnation came from the pope and European leaders as well as from Turkey, which is involved in a heated diplomatic spat with Paris over cartoons mocking the prophet.

“We strongly condemn the attack committed today inside the Notre-Dame church in Nice,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said.

It also expressed solidarity with France, and offered condolences to the relatives of the three people killed in the attack.

European Union leaders expressed solidarity with France as well, and pledged to confront “those that seek to incite and spread hatred”.

“I condemn the odious and brutal attack that has just taken place in Nice and I am with France with all my heart,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.

“My thoughts are with the victims of this hateful act. All of Europe is in solidarity with France. We wil remain united and determined in the face of barbarity and fanaticism.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “I am deeply shaken by the brutal murders in the church in Nice. My thoughts are with the relatives of those murdered and injured. Germany stands with France at this difficult time.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte condemned what he called a “vile attack” and said it “will not shake the common front defending the values of freedom and peace.

“Our convictions are stronger than fanaticism, hatred and terror.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “We continue to defend freedom, our democratic values, peace and the security of our citizens. United against terror and hatred.”

Pope Francis prayed for the victims as the Vatican said that “terrorism and violence can never be accepted.

“Today’s attack has sown death in a place of love and consolation. The Pope is aware of the situation and is close to the mourning Catholic community,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

The pontiff urged people in France to “unite to combat evil with good”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged solidarity with Paris in the fight against extremism.

“I am appalled to hear the news from Nice this morning of a barbaric attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica,” he tweeted in English and French.

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance.”