Bastille terror attack: Update
On 14th July, a 19-tonne truck ploughed into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice.
84 people lost their lives in the massacre, including several children.
The driver of the truck was shot dead by police, with authorities reporting that the man had been firing on the crowd and officers as he drove the truck, which was loaded with weapons.
French prosecutors have said the attack was ‘premeditated, prepared and planned’.
Prosecutor François Molins told a press conference that the assailant, a 31-year-old Frenchman of Tunisian descent - Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel - had grown a beard in the eight days before he carried out the atrocity and told friends “the significance of the beard is religious.”
Outlining evidence gathered by police, Molins said that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had not previously shown any sign of being religious, and “ate pork, drank alcohol, took drugs and had a promiscuous sex life.”
Molins added that one witness had told detectives that during a discussion about portrayals of Daesh decapitations online, Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had replied: “I am used to that.”
Another told police that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel “couldn’t understand why Daesh couldn’t claim its own territory” and others quizzed by detectives, including his estranged wife, spoke of his “violent behaviour.”
On the day of the attack, witnesses said the driver was “zig-zagging” so he could hit as many people as possible.
It was reported that he drove into the crowd for 2km at a speed of around 30mph.
As a ‘stampede’ of people rushed down the Promenade des Anglais, eyewitnesses told of parents throwing their children over fences to avoid them being struck by the lorry.
Six people remain in police custody following the incident and are being interviewed over their role in any “logistical support, including the providing of arms” to the attacker.
Molins said investigators were examining the “correspondence and communications” of Lahouaiej-Bouhlel in the run up to the attack.
On 7th July, Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had researched the Qu’ran on his computer as well as religious songs. On 8th July at 8.30am, he picked up the lorry used to carry out the massacre and in the three days prior to the attack, he went to the Promenade des Anglais several times.
Three days of national mourning in France have been eclipsed by the increasing debate surrounding whether the government has done enough to respond to terrorism.