France Attacker 'Wasn't on the Radar'

Driver identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel after truck assault in Nice
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2016 5:09 AM CDT
Updated Jul 15, 2016 6:20 AM CDT
France Attacker 'Wasn't on the Radar'
The truck that mowed through revelers, bottom left, was still at the scene Friday morning.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

France is in mourning—and on high alert—after Thursday night's horrific truck attack on a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the southern city of Nice. The attacker who plowed into hundreds of people, killing at least 84 and injuring dozens of others over more than a mile, has been named by Nice-Matin as local man Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel. Sources tell CNN that the 31-year-old French-Tunisian was a petty criminal who was not on authorities' radar for jihadist activities. He was shot dead by police, apparently after opening fire on the crowd, and authorities found his identity papers inside the vehicle, along with more weapons, the BBC reports. A witness who saw the driver's face says he "had a beard and appeared to be having fun." In other developments:

  • France has declared three days of national mourning and extended a state of emergency. "We are facing a war that terrorism has brought to us. The goal of terrorists is to instill fear and panic," Prime Minister Manuel Valls says. "And France is a great country, and a great democracy that will not allow itself to be destabilized."

  • Regional lawmaker Eric Ciotti says that one person jumped onto the truck to try to stop it, the AP reports. "It's at that moment that the police were able to neutralize this terrorist," he says. "I won't forget the look of this policewoman who intercepted the killer."
  • A spokeswoman for the Lenval Foundation children's hospital in Nice says they have treated at least 50 young victims, including two who died during or after surgery. Others are in a condition that is "still life and death," she says.
  • The attack was condemned by world leaders, including Pope Francis, President Obama, and Angela Merkel, who says, "I am convinced that, despite all the difficulties, we shall win this fight," reports Reuters. European Council chief Donald Tusk says the world stands with France. "It is a tragic paradox that the victims of the attack [were] people celebrating liberty, equality, and fraternity," he says.
  • Near the scene on the seafront Promenade des Anglais, police have cordoned off the road, and traumatized survivors are still wandering around, the Guardian reports. Residents say that after last night's horror, people had to step around bodies to flee the scene. "I saw a mother covering her child's eyes, telling him to keep them tightly shut," one man says. "The dad had a toddler in his arms and had buried his face in his T-shirt for him not to see anything."
(More Attack in Nice stories.)

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