Terror attack in Nice spawns prayer, questions

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NICE, France (BP) -- A terrorist attack yesterday (July 14) in Nice, France, that left at least 84 people dead has prompted calls for prayer as well as speculation on the role Islamic extremism may have played.

International Mission Board spokeswoman Julie McGowan told Baptist Press the IMB does not discuss the location of its personnel "due to security considerations for IMB personnel and the national believers with whom they work." But McGowan noted, "However, with any breaking news event, we are in contact with anyone who might be affected, due to travel and other reasons, to confirm their safety and security. Please pray for the people of France and others who are affected by this tragedy."

The attack occurred when Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a 31-year-old French citizen, drove a truck approximately one mile down a crowed promenade on France's southern coast during a Bastille Day fireworks celebration, striking hundreds before being killed by police.

Among the dead are at least 10 children and two Americans, according to media reports. Fifty-two people are in critical care with 25 on life support, The Guardian reported. A total of 188 injured people were treated in hospitals.

No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Reuters reported that one supporter of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group tweeted, "The number of those killed had [sic] reached 62 French crusaders and sinful infidels in Nice, France. God is great, God is great."

Marine Le Pen, president of France's conservative National Front political party called her country to declare war "against the scourge of Islamic fundamentalism," The Guardian reported.

Conservative U.S. author and foreign affairs commentator Joel Rosenberg noted a call by ISIS for Muslims to kill French citizens by hitting them with cars.

"If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies," ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani has said previously according to a July 15 blog post by Rosenberg. "Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car."

Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, tweeted a call to screen "potential immigrants [to the U.S.] for a political ideological agenda that opposes" America's Declaration of Independence or Constitution. In a separate tweet, he said, "If we don't want to go the way of France, we must get serious about this soon."

Johnson advised Christians to "pray for victims, evangelize moderate Muslims [and] support (demand) government efforts to use deadly force against Islamists."

French President Francois Hollande said he has "visited scores of injured who have horrendous images in their heads. They are suffering more because of the psychological trauma. Even people who have no signs of physical injury will carry throughout their lives the trauma of the horrific images they saw," according to a translation published by The Guardian.

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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