By Simon Lewis
At least 84 people were killed Thursday night when a truck careened through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in the southern French city of Nice. French President François Hollande has said the attack, was likely an act of terrorism. He said later that there were 50 injured people “between life and death.” The driver was named as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, a resident of Nice, by French authorities.
According to eyewitness accounts, bodies were sent flying into the air as the heavy-duty white transport vehicle hit them on the Promenade des Anglais at about 10:30 p.m. local time, where people had gathered to watch fireworks by the Nice seafront. Videos taken by bystanders show the truck zigzagging as the driver apparently sought to hit as many people as possible as he drove along more than a mile of crowded road. Images from the scene show bodies sprawled along stretches of road. Local paperNice-Matin reports the drive lasted 45 seconds.
The driver reportedly also opened fire on the crowd, and was killed in a shootout with police. Photographs show the windshield of the truck riddled with bullet holes after it was brought to a halt.
Details have begun to emerge in local media about Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who was identified after documents were discovered in the truck. A French prosecutor confirmed the identity of Bouhlel Friday, identifying him as a 31-year-old Tunisian national who lived in France. The proescutor said Bouhlel was known to the police for assault and theft but was not on the radar of intelligence agencies. Bouhlel had a wife and family. His wife was arrested early Friday and is being questioned by authorities. It is not yet known whether Bouhlel had any accomplices.
Terrorist link suspected
Officials were quick to say they suspected a terrorist attack had taken place. The Paris prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into “murder, attempted murder in an organized group linked to a terrorist enterprise,” to be led by the country’s intelligence agency and judicial police, the Associated Press reports.
Categories: The Muslim Times