French national ceremony marks three months since deadly Nice truck attack

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NICE, France, Oct 15 (Reuters) - The names of the 86 victims who died in the July 14 attack in the French city of Nice were read aloud, and a white rose for each was pinned to a monument, during a national ceremony on Saturday marking three months since the killings.

Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a 19-tonne truck along the beach front, mowing down people who had gathered to watch the fireworks on Bastille Day, before police shot him dead.

"Three months ago here, on our national day ... it was supposed to be joyous. It became hell. In four minutes, just four minutes, a truck at high speed, transformed the Promenade des Anglais into a cemetery," President Francois Hollande said.

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The ceremony was attended by survivors, victims' families and French political leaders from the government and opposition.

"We have listened to the names of the 86 people whose lives were suddenly interrupted," Hollande said, adding that the oldest was a 92 years-old Italian who died with his partner and two friends.

The youngest was just over two years old, and from Nice. She died alongside her cousin, her grandmother and a friend, he said.

Hollande said France, which is engaged in the fight against radical Islamist militancy in the Middle East and North Africa, will not back down despite several attacks on French soil aimed, he said, at creating divisions and stigmatization.

See photos from the scene of the attack:

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Truck attacker kills dozens in Nice
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Truck attacker kills dozens in Nice
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. Up to 30 people are feared dead and over 100 others were injured after a van drove into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French resort of Nice on July 14, a local official told French television, describing it as a 'major criminal attack'. / AFP / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers and rescue workers arrive at the scene of an attack on July 14, 2016, after a van ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. The mayor of the French city of Nice said dozens of people were likely killed after a van rammed into a crowd marking Bastille Day in the French Riviera resort today and urged residents to stay indoors. / AFP / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers and rescued workers stand near a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. The mayor of the French city of Nice said dozens of people were likely killed after a van rammed into a crowd marking Bastille Day in the French Riviera resort today and urged residents to stay indoors. / AFP / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers stand near a van, with its windscreen riddled with bullets, that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. The mayor of the French city of Nice said dozens of people were likely killed after a van rammed into a crowd marking Bastille Day in the French Riviera resort today and urged residents to stay indoors. / AFP / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - An injured individual is seen on the ground after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - An injured individual is seen on the ground after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
French soldiers and rescue forces are seen at the scene whare at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French soldiers cordon the area after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - A body is seen on the ground July 15, 2016 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - Bodies are seen on the ground July 15, 2016 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TEMPLATE OUT.
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - Bodies are seen on the ground July 15, 2016 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - Bodies are seen on the ground July 15, 2016 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
French police and rescue forces vehicles are seen on the Promenade des Anglais July 15, 2016 after at least 60 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
People cross the street with their hands on thier heads as a French soldier secures the area July 15, 2016 after at least 60 people were killed along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - A man sits next to a body seen on the ground July 15, 2016 after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - An injured individual is seen on the ground after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH - An injured individual is seen on the ground after at least 30 people were killed in Nice, France, when a truck ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck July 15, 2016 that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais killing at least 60 people in Nice, France, July 14. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A man walks with his hands up as police officers carry out checks on people in the centre of French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. At least 60 people are feared dead after a van drove into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French resort of Nice on July 14, authorities said on July 15. / AFP / Valery HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
A soldier stands guard near the site of an attack in the French Riviera town of Nice, after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display on July 14, 2016. Up to 30 people are feared dead and over 100 others were injured after a van drove into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French resort of Nice on July 14, a local official told French television, describing it as a 'major criminal attack'. / AFP / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers speak with a soldier after a van that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice on July 14, 2016. Up to 30 people are feared dead and over 100 others were injured after a van drove into a crowd watching Bastille Day fireworks in the French resort of Nice on July 14, a local official told French television, describing it as a 'major criminal attack'. / AFP / VALERY HACHE (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Deadly attacks by Islamist militants in Paris, Nice and elsewhere have raised questions about the place in society of France's large Muslim and Arab population, and spilled over into the campaign for next year's presidential election.

"What was struck on July 14 was national unity. It is the monstrous aim of the terrorists; attack some to scare others and unleash violence to create divisions," Hollande said.

"This evil enterprise will fail. Unity, freedom and humanity will ultimately prevail."

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