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Lorry driver confirmed as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

July 15, 2016 4:36 pm

The driver of a lorry that killed 84 people in an attack in the French city of Nice has been confirmed as Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, 31.

Some 202 people were injured; 52 are critical, of whom 25 are on life support. Ten of the dead were children.

Prosecutors said Lahouaiej-Bouhlel had driven the lorry 2km (1.2 miles) along the Promenade des Anglais and fired at police before being shot dead.

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Other weapons found inside the lorry were replicas or fake.

Francois Molins said no group had admitted carrying out the attack but that it bore the hallmarks of jihadist terrorism.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove the 19-tonne lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day at about 22:45 local time (20:45 GMT). He fired at officers with a 7.65mm calibre automatic pistol when the vehicle was close to the Negresco hotel and continued for another 300m, where his vehicle was stopped near the Palais de la Mediterranee hotel and he was shot dead.

Also found in the lorry were an ammunition magazine, a fake pistol, replica Kalashnikov and M16 rifles, and a dummy grenade.

There was also a bicycle, empty pallets, documents and a mobile phone. Items were later seized from Lahouaiej-Bouhlel’s Nice home.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a chauffeur and delivery man, had three children but had separated from his wife, who was taken into police custody on Friday, Mr Molins said.

He was known to the police as a petty criminal, but was “totally unknown to intelligence services… and was never flagged for signs of radicalisation”, the prosecutor added.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said he could not confirm links to jihadism.

However, Prime Minister Manuel Valls told France 2 television that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was a “terrorist without doubt linked to radical Islamism in one way or another”.

Francois Hollande, in Nice, said the attack was of “an undeniable terrorist nature”.

He said the battle against terrorism would be long, as France faced an enemy “that will continue to attack those people and those countries that count liberty as an essential value”.

Mr Hollande said the attack was carried out “to satisfy the cruelty of an individual or possibly a group” and that many of the victims were foreigners and young children.

“We will overcome the suffering because we are a united France,” he said.

A state of emergency, in place since November’s Paris attacks carried out by militants from the so-called Islamic State group, in which 130 people died, has been extended by three months.

Simon Coates, a solicitor from Leeds told the BBC: "I saw one woman lying on the ground talking to her dead child, as other people desperately did what they could to save their loved ones.

“As the lorry passed by me a young boy of 10 or so just managed to leap to one side and escape by inches. Tragically dozens of those on foot, young and old alike, were not so lucky. Virtually everyone I saw on the promenade was either dead or beyond real help with truly terrible injuries.”

Nader el-Shafei told the BBC he saw the driver face-to-face for about a minute: “He was very nervous… looking for something around him, I kept yelling at him and waving my hands to stop… he picked up his gun and started to shoot police.”

Afterwards he said he ran towards the beach with others, fearing the driver, who was then shot by police, would detonate the lorry.

Some 30,000 people were on the Promenade des Anglais at the time of the attack, officials said.

Residents of Nice and foreign tourists were among those who died. They included four French citizens, three Algerians, a teacher and two schoolchildren from Germany, three Tunisians, two Swiss, two Americans, a Ukrainian, an Armenian and a Russian.

The son of Fatima Charrihi, a 60-year-old Nice resident from Morocco, said she was the first to die. He said she “practised Islam in the proper way. A real Islam, not the terrorists’ version”.

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