After attack in France, Koreans remain missing

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After attack in France, Koreans remain missing

As of Friday evening in Korea, 13 Korean nationals remained unaccounted for in Nice, France, after a truck rampage there left at least 84 dead.

A truck rammed into the crowd gathered to watch fireworks at the popular seafront Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, at around 11 p.m. Thursday local time. It was Bastille Day in France, and witnesses say thousands of people were celebrating the national holiday on the waterfront.

After the truck rampage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received calls from relatives and friends who could not get in touch with 55 Koreans in Nice. The ministry affirmed on Friday evening that the safety and whereabouts of 42 of 55 citizens have been confirmed.

The ministry and the Korean Embassy in France are continuing their search to reach the 13 nationals.

This included six people whose phone numbers were not known or did not have international roaming service.

Officials from the Korean Embassy in France have been dispatched to Nice, and they will be checking in on hospitals to see if any patients are Korean.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Blue House and the Office for Government Policy Coordination held an emergency meeting on Friday, presided over by Ambassador for Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs Han Dong-man, to draft an immediate policy response to protect citizens in France after the attack.

An emergency task force of the Foreign Ministry will be sending out safety warning notices via text messages to Korean travelers in France. It is considering raising Korea’s four-stage travel warning from level one to two for Nice. Since the terrorist attack in Paris last November, Korea issued a level-one travel warning to all regions of France, and a level-two warning for Paris.

The lowest level-one warning advises caution to Koreans traveling in that region, and a level-two warning requests Koreans to refrain from traveling to that region.

The French Ministry of Interior spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet confirmed on Friday morning local time that the death toll had risen to 84.

“The terrorist character of this attack cannot be denied,” President Francois Hollande said in his televised address. The president extended the state of emergency that was to end on July 26 by three more months.

The country has been in a state of emergency since last November, when terrorist attacks in Paris killed 130 and injured hundreds.

The driver, who was shot and killed by police, has been identified as a 31-year-old resident of France from Tunisia, according to local media.

While his exact motivation for the attack has not been announced yet, President Hollande has characterized it as a terrorist attack, and supposed followers of the Islamic State posted messages of celebration on social media after the attack.

President Park Geun-hye offered her condolences to the French people on Friday.

“I send my condolences to the people of France and the families of those affected in the possible terror attack in Nice, France,” she said in her remarks at the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. “Terrorist attacks should never be tolerated under any
circumstances.”

The Foreign Ministry also issued a statement supporting the French government’s counterterrorism efforts.

“Korea stands with France and the international community in exterminating terrorism throughout the world,” it said in its statement Friday.


BY YOO JEE-HYE, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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