French authorities were trying to determine on Friday whether the Tunisian, who killed at least 84 people by ploughing a truck into Bastille Day crowd had acted in isolation or in company of accomplices, but has said that the attack has the hallmarks of Islamist militants.
Thursday night’s attack in the Riviera city of Nice threw France again into yet another grief and fear, barely eight months after unsuspecting gunmen killed 130 people in Paris. Those attacks, and one in Brussels four months ago, have traumatized Western Europe and is keeping the Region on its toes over security challenges, especially from mass immigration, open borders and pockets of deadly Islamist extremism.
The truck was said to have zigzagged along the city’s seafront Promenade des Anglais as fireworks display marking the French national day ended on Thursday night. It adventured into families and friends listening to an orchestra or strolling above the Mediterranean beach towards the century-old Hotel Negresco.
At least 10 children were among those reported dead and the scores of injured has it that 25 more people were on life support, according to French authorities.
Bystander Franck Sidoli said he had seen people go down before the truck finally stopped just five metres away from him, recounting that, “A woman was there, she lost her son. Her son was on the ground, bleeding”
The driver, 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, shot dead by officers at the scene, was known to the Police for petty crimes, but was not on a watch list of suspected militants, despite having one criminal conviction for road rage, sentenced to probation three months ago for throwing a wooden pallet at another driver.
The investigation “will try to determine whether he benefited from accomplices,” Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said, hinting that “It will also try to find out whether Mohamed Laouaiej Bouhlel had connections with Islamist terrorist organisations.
“Although the attack has not been claimed, this sort of thing fits in perfectly with calls for murder from such terrorist organisations,” he added.
Bouhlel’s ex-wife was in police custody, Molins said. Police found one pistol and various fake weapons in his truck.
However, a rather more frightening report has painted that the “Dawn broke on Friday with pavements smeared with dried blood; Smashed children’s strollers, an uneaten baguette and other debris were scattered about the promenade, with Small areas screened off and what appeared to be bodies covered in blankets were visible through the gaps.”
It also said that the truck was still where it had come to rest with its windscreen completely riddled with bullets.
After the Paris attacks, the Islamic State, ISIS said France and all nations which involves self in its activities would remain at the top of its list of targets; and France as a major part of a U.S. led mission conducting air strikes and special forces operations against Islamic State, as well as training Iraqi government and Kurdish forces is seen as being top in the Militant’s lists.
“We will further strengthen our actions in Syria and Iraq,” François Hollande said, calling the tragedy on the day France marks the 1789 revolutionary storming of the Bastille prison in Paris an attack on liberty by fanatics who despised human rights.
“We are facing a battle that will be long because facing us is an enemy that wants to continue to strike all people and all countries that have values like ours,” he said.
France is home to the European Union’s biggest Muslim population, mostly descended from immigrants from North African former colonies. It maintains a secular culture that allows no place for religion in schools and civic life, which supporters say encourages a common French identity but critics say contributes to alienation in some communities.
The Paris attack in November was the bloodiest among a number in France and Belgium in the past two years. On Sunday, a weary nation had breathed a sigh of relief that the month-long Euro 2016 soccer tournament had ended without serious incident.
According to Tunisian security sources the suspect had last visited his hometown of Msaken, North eastern part of the Country, since four years ago. Security reports have also disclosed that he had three children and was not known by the Tunisian authorities to hold radical or Islamist views.
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