ISIS: Attacker in Nice Was 'a Soldier'
Attacker's estranged wife among 5 arrested
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2016 7:17 AM CDT
A teddy bear sits with flowers and paper tributes near the scene of a truck attack in Nice, southern France, Saturday, July 16, 2016.    (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
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(Newser) – After 36 hours, ISIS has claimed responsibility for Thursday night's truck attack in Nice, saying the French-Tunisian man behind the atrocity was one of its soldiers. "The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State," ISIS said in a statement released through the pro-extremist news agency Amaq. "He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State." The group did not name 31-year-old attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who had no previous known links to jihadists, nor did it offer any evidence that he had been acting in the name of ISIS, reports the Guardian. In other developments:

  • Early Saturday, French authorities detained five people, including Bouhlel's estranged wife, over suspected links to the attack, the BBC reports

  • The death toll from the attack, in which Bouhlel mowed down people along a seafront promenade for more than a mile before he was shot dead by police, now stands at 84, including 10 children. More than 200 were injured, and 25 are still on life support.
  • Neighbors describe Bouhlel, who had three young children and apparently split up with his wife years ago, as a strange and "frightening" man who kept to himself and was known for staring at children, the CBC reports.
  • The AP reports that Bouhlel, who was born in Tunisia and was working in France legally as a delivery driver, "showed little outward interest in Islam." He was known for drinking and neighbors say he failed to observe Ramadan rituals.
  • Bouhlel was known to police for allegations of theft and domestic violence, but he was "entirely unknown by the intelligence services, whether nationally or locally," French prosecutor Francois Molins says. "He had never been the subject of any kind of file or indication of radicalization."
  • CNN reports that Bouhlel's father, who lives in Tunisia, says his son had mental health issues and had suffered several nervous breakdowns.