Who is Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel? What we know about Nice attack terrorist who left 84 dead
A terrorist has killed at least 84 people - including several children - after driving a lorry through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in France. The truck ploughed into crowds on Nice's Promenade des Anglais and continued at speed for around a mile. The driver was seen shooting from the window of the truck as he smashed into people. The killer was eventually shot dead by police with pictures showing his truck riddled with bullet holes. Here is what we know so far about the man driving the truck.
Who was the attacker?
The name of the suspect has now been identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. His ID card found in the truck shows he is a 31-year-old French man of Tunisian descent. He was known to police in connection with common law crimes such as theft and violence. Investigating sources said his last appearance in court was as recently as March, when he was found guilty of violent conduct. As reported by Nice Matin, he worked as a delivery driver. His home was searched by police this morning and a number of his relatives are now being spoken to by police.
Was he known to security officials?
The attacker was not known to the intelligence services, suggesting he has not previous background in terrorism offences. The fact he was not on the watch list will be of grave concern as an investigation into last year’s Paris attacks identified multiple failings by France’s intelligence agencies.
Was it a planned terrorist attack?
Security services are now attempting to find out if this was yet another horrific terrorist attack on France. Guns and ammunition were found in the back of the truck, suggesting a premeditated attack. A police source has told AFP that the truck "changed route at least once" as it ploughed through crowds.The source added: "He clearly sought to make maximum casualties." Wassim Bouhel told the French TV channel iTele that the lorry zigzagged across the road. He said: “We almost died. It was like hallucinating ... (the lorry) zigzagged - you had no idea where it was going."
What do we know about the truck?
We now also now know that the truck was a rented vehicle. The police source told AFP that it was rented "a few days ago" in the South East of France. "The truck was rented in the last few days in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur," the source said.
Did lorry driver have accomplices?
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said authorities are working to identify the terrorist - and determine whether or not he had help. He told reporters: “I’d like to say a word about the investigation, not to reveal any details but to say that we are fighting this with all the means the state has to identify the suspect. The identification process is ongoing. “We will firstly determine if he had help from accomplices or not. And this information is to be shared by the public prosecutor according to what will be verified for sure, to prevent rumours or false information to be carried out."
Who is responsible?
There had been no claim of responsibility on Friday morning. However, security officials will certainly be looking to see if it was carried out by ISIS. Pro-ISIS Twitter accounts have posted sickening posters celebrating the attacks.
France has been in a state of high alert following a number of terror attacks claimed by ISIS on Paris and other French cities over the past year. Speaking hours after the attack, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said: "We are in a war with terrorists who want to hurt us at all costs." Earlier President Francois Hollande said the attack was clearly of terrorist nature.