French lawmakers back emergency rule after Nice attack, inquiry demanded

Reuters

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Soldiers from the French Foreign Legion patrol on the Promenade des Anglais on the third day of national mourning to pay tribute to victims of the truck attack on Bastille Day that killed scores and injured as many in Nice, France, July 18, 2016. Soldiers from the French Foreign Legion patrol on the Promenade des Anglais on the third day of national mourning to pay tribute to victims of the truck attack on Bastille Day that killed scores and injured as many in Nice, France, July 18, 2016.

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French lawmakers approved a six-month rollover of emergency rule on Wednesday in the wake of last week's truck attack in Nice, the third deadly assault in 18 months for which Islamist militants have claimed responsibility.
President Francois Hollande's Socialist government is under intense pressure over security since last week's attack, in which a Tunisian man mowed through a Bastille Day crowd, killing 84 people before he was shot dead by police.
The extension of extra search-and-arrest powers for police was approved by 489 votes to 26 shortly before dawn in France's National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls, jeered by crowds at a remembrance ceremony on Monday and criticized by political opponents over the attack, called for national unity as he presented the emergency rule bill overnight.
"We must remain united and focused because we must be strong in the face of this threat," he said, accusing political foes of unseemly exploitation of the tragedy before the dead have even been buried.
Christian Estrosi, head of the regional government in the area around Nice, renewed charges of serious security failings and inadequate policing. He has demanded an inquiry.
Hollande under pressure
Emergency rule has been in place since attacks on Paris last November in which Islamist militants killed 130 people. In January 2015, 17 people were killed in attacks that began with the shooting of journalists working for Charlie Hebdo, a satirical publication that had published cartoons mocking Islam.
In response to demands from the main right-wing opposition party, Les Republicains, the rollover of emergency rule was extended for six months, to late January 2017, rather than the three months proposed by Hollande's government.
The emergency regime, due to be examined by the upper house Senate later on Wednesday before becoming law, allows police to search homes and arrest people without prior consent from judges. It also allows them to tap computer and phone communications more freely.
The attacks have further weakened Hollande's chances of winning re-election next year, already damaged by his failure to bring down unemployment.
Defending his government's record, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Le Monde newspaper in an interview that even with all the measures being taken, "there can never be zero risk."
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Nice attack, although no firm evidence has yet emerged that the 31-year-old attacker had direct contact with the group.
France has said it will step up its involvement in the U.S.-led coalition attacking bases of the militant group in Iraq and Syria. Its defense and foreign ministers are currently in the United States meeting other coalition members to discuss how to increase military efforts against IS.

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