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Hollande Attends Scene of New Attack Amid Growing Security Crisis

© AFP 2022 / CHARLY TRIBALLEAUFrench President Francois Hollande (C) flanked by Hubert Wulfranc mayor of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (L) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R), speaks to the press as he leaves the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray's city hall following a hostage-taking at a church of the town on July 26, 2016 that left the priest dead.
French President Francois Hollande (C) flanked by Hubert Wulfranc mayor of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (L) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (R), speaks to the press as he leaves the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray's city hall following a hostage-taking at a church of the town on July 26, 2016 that left the priest dead. - Sputnik International
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French President Francois Hollande rushed to the scene of the latest terror alert after two assailants were killed by police after taking hostages - including a priest and nuns - at a church in northern France.

A police source said that one of the hostages — an 84-year-old priest —had been killed with a blade in the attack which took place in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen. Police say both hostage-takers were killed.

​Meanwhile, Hollande is facing growing pressure over alleged security failures that led to 84 people being killed in Nice, July 14, when Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a 19-ton truck into a crown gathered on the city's Promenade des Anglais.

French police officers patrol on the famed Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France, three days after a truck mowed through revelers, Sunday, July 17, 2016 - Sputnik International
Staff Shortage Caused Police Not to Search People on Day of Nice Attack

The French president is under pressure to explain a series of security failures in Nice, with a local policewoman alleging that the interior ministry had harassed her into reporting that the national police had been deployed alongside local police in Nice on the night of the lorry attack.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, however, denied the allegation while Prime Minister Manuel Valls described the scandal as a "political polemic aimed at destabilizing the government." Valls was booed at a memorial service for the victims of the Nice attack.

Intel Failures

There had been criticism that the national police were not actually deployed and that only a small force of local police were protecting the entrance to the pedestrianized zone, allowing the driver to plow straight into the crowd.

The driver of the 19-ton truck plowed into crowds along the promenade in Nice, despite heavy vehicles being banned on public holidays in France and those over 3.5 tons being barred from the promenade all year round.

© AFP 2022 / BORIS HORVATA man kneels and holds his head on July 15, 2016 in front of flowers placed near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.
A man kneels and holds his head on July 15, 2016 in front of flowers placed near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.  - Sputnik International
A man kneels and holds his head on July 15, 2016 in front of flowers placed near the site in Nice where a gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people.

Cazeneuve initially said "national police were present and very present on the Promenade des Anglais" and that their cars were blocking the entrance to the promenade. However, he later admitted only local police, who are more lightly armed than national police, were guarding the entrance to the area.

According to the Liberation newspaper, only one local police car was stationed at the entrance to the promenade. Cazeneuve has ordered an inquiry into the security at the event and the reasons why the attacker was able to drive to the area several times before being able to mow down scores of people.

Truck Attack in Nice, France - Sputnik International
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The latest attack will pile pressure on Hollande, Valls and Cazeneuve to increase security on the streets of France and promote greater cooperation between its municipal and national police, as well as the security services.

Outside of the police, France has seven different intelligence agencies:  the DGSE [General Directorate for External Security] and the DGSI [General Directorate for Internal Security], as well as another five agencies that work in various technical and specialist fields. The separate organizations work in silos, meaning that intelligence on potential attackers is often not passed on.

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