Georges Lemopoulos, acting general secretary of the World Council of Churches, has called for prayer and caring acts in the wake of the terrorist attack in the French coastal resort of Nice last week.

At least 84 people, reportedly including 10 children, were killed and about 200 injured when a Tunisian man, named as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, drove a truck into a crowd of thousands which had gathered along Nice's Promenade de Anglais on Thursday night to watch Bastille Day fireworks. Police fatally shot Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who had also opened fire on them during the attack, at the scene. Other weapons discovered in the truck were either found to be replicas or fakes.

In a statement, Mr Lemopoulos said he was "praying for the victims and their families, and for all the people of France, as are many Christians and our partners in dialogue from other world religions".

He said Bastille Day "is the great festival of liberty and mutual support in France". "We condemn this assault on innocent human beings, and also on the values of justice and community. Those celebrating national unity were targeted deliberately.”

Mr Lemopoulos said whatever findings are made with regard to the motive of the crime, "(w)hatever the outcome of that inquiry, it is essential that the spirit of unity be upheld and that no one minority community may be scapegoated for the crimes of a few.”

“People of good will must respond, and we in the WCC pledge to take positive, direct action as part a common response to this brutal attack. This is a time for prayer, but also for action by faith organizations in partnership with state and secular agencies.”

Meanwhile, Roman Catholic Pope Francis prayed for victims of the attack at the Vatican on Sunday, telling those gathered in St Peter's Square that "sorrow is great in our hearts".