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Tragedy in Nice: Why is France the target of another terror attack?

French authorities may have ramped up security in the wake of November's tragic terror attacks, but the most recent tragedy in Nice shows the country is still failing to address the socio-economic issues underlying a homegrown terror threat, analysts say.

President Francois Hollande extended France's state of emergency after the country fell victim to a second terror attack in less than 12 months, with at least 84 people killed by a truck which rammed into a crowd enjoying Bastille Day festivities in Nice on Thursday night.

While some analysts have praised law enforcement for responding quickly to the attacks — having shot and killed the armed driver shortly after he rammed into the crowd — others say on-the-ground security is only dealing with the symptoms of a deep-seated rift in modern France.


People mourn after the Nice attack on July 14, 2016.
Valery Hache | AFP | Getty Images
People mourn after the Nice attack on July 14, 2016.

Matthew Henman, the head of IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, told CNBC in a phone interview that extremists have undoubtedly been angered by French attacks on militant Islamic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, including air strikes against Islamic State strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

However, Henman highlighted that the country has stopped short of effectively addressing the socio-economic factors that are making France more vulnerable to attacks, noting that a portion of the sizeable Muslim population has grown up feeling incredibly disenfranchised and unwelcome, never having forged an identity with the modern culture nor their families' former home country.

Some of those Parisian suburbs have seen youth unemployment, particularly among young males, soar as high as 45 percent, Florian Otto, Head of Europe and Central Asia Research at Verisk Maplecroft told CNBC by phone on Friday. "It borders 50 percent in some of the most deprived boroughs."

Meanwhile, militant groups have pointed to policies like making it illegal for citizens to fully cover their face in public. That is widely seen as a ban on Muslim burqas as is seen by some as being particularly prejudiced against Islam.

But the country's division hasn't gone unnoticed. Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris in January 2015, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the attack "underscored a lot of evil" gnawing at the country.

"We have to look at all the divisions, the tensions that have been going on for years ... the neglect of the suburbs, the ghettos, the social misery," Valls added. "A geographical, social and ethnic apartheid has established itself in our country."

But unlike the relatively effective security response, there has been little advancement on dismantling France's divisions.

"The key challenge is that it comes down to decades of policy that wasn't prioritized, and it will take a while before we see tangible gains, and…before it's translated into (positive) perception. If many people still don't feel like they have a stake, and those policies aren't launched effectively, it will take time."

Henman agreed that the key element is prevention, "taking steps to prevent terrorism….addressing factors that lead youth to be radicalized, where young men and women feel so disenfranchised from their own countries that they are drawn by it (terrorism).

"Until you do that, a purely security-based response won't be 100 percent effective," Henman said.

Valery Hache | AFP | Getty Images