ST. GEORGE – In the wake of Thursday’s attack in Nice, France, that left 84 dead and 202 wounded, Gov. Gary Herbert has authorized the flags of the United States of America and the state of Utah be flown at half-staff through Tuesday at sunset.
“We lower flags today in a symbol of collective mourning that is becoming far too common in our country and world. Jeanette and I extend our deepest condolences to those impacted by the terrible tragedy in France. As Utahns, we join with others in prayer for the families and friends of those affected by this despicable terrorist attack.”
Aside from Memorial Day and the deaths of prominent individuals like former Sen. Bob Bennett, the flags were just recently flown at half-staff for the five police officers killed in Dallas. Prior to that, the flags were lowered for the victims of the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June and an attack in Brussels, Belgium, in March.
The latter two incidents have been characterized as terrorists attacks, a moniker that has also been applied to the most recent incident in France.
The incident in Nice, France, involved 31-year-old Mohamed Bouhlel, a man of Tunisian origin living in Nice. He was identified as the man who drove a large cargo truck into a crowd of people who had been watching a Bastille Day fireworks display.
The massacre didn’t end until police shot and killed Bouhlel, who also is said to have been armed.
Video shot by witnesses shows the truck coming under police gunfire as it drives through an intersection along the palm tree-lined Promenade des Anglais, which had been turned into a pedestrian walkway for the national day celebrations.
Crowds fled in panic, taking shelter in shops, hotels or leaping off the elevated pavement onto the beach below. Police finally surrounded the stationary truck and fatally shot its driver.
French officials called it an undeniable act of terror, but no group claimed responsibility and it wasn’t clear if Bouhlel had extremist ties.
The country is still reeling from the Nov. 13 attacks, which killed 130 people at the Bataclan concert hall, Paris restaurants and cafes, and the national stadium, and a separate Jan. 2015 in Paris that targeted journalists at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and Jews at a kosher supermarket.
Both attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, and French President Francois Hollande was booed in Nice on Friday by people who blamed government authorities for failing to enforce sufficient security measures.
According to The Associated Press, 52 of the 202 people injured remain in critical condition, with 25 on life support. Among the dead are two Americans, a father and his 11-year-old son from Texas.
Leaders from around the world and closer to home have expressed their sympathies for the victims while also condemning the bloody act.
In addition to the governor, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Congressman Chris Stewart were also among those who issued statements addressing the attack.
From the Utah Attorney General’s Office:
As we have done far too many times in the recent past, we express our sadness and solidarity for our brothers and sisters across the world. We denounce the cowardly and barbaric attack in Nice, France, that took so many innocent lives tonight. Whether or not the perpetrator was affiliated with a known terrorist group, this unthinkable attack was nothing short of an act of terrorism.
Such tragedies remind us how difficult it is to protect our own communities. Like those law enforcement officers in France who prevented even further mayhem and carnage, we thank dedicated law enforcement officers locally and nationally for their constant efforts to keep us safe from similar threats.
May God bless the people of France and the families of victims with His peace and comfort.
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah:
Our hearts are with France during this extremely difficult time. Far too many are seeking to take away our basic freedoms and destroy our western values. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — we HAVE to get more serious about stopping the spread of global terrorism to prevent future attacks.
I’m using my position on the House Intelligence Committee to not only bolster our security at home and abroad, but also to persuade my colleagues to get more aggressive about destroying ISIS and global terrorism.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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