Mon, Jul 18, 2016 - Page 5 News List

Two more detained in Nice attack probe

ROADWAY SHRINE:Promenade des Anglais’ westbound lane is filled with memorials of flowers, flags, candles and stuffed toys, as well as condemnations of the attacker

AP, NICE, France

People pass flowers and messages left in the westbound lane of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, for victims of the Bastille Day truck attack on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

French authorities yesterday detained two more people in the investigation into the Bastille Day truck attack on the Mediterranean city of Nice that killed at least 84 people, as authorities try to determine whether the slain attacker was a committed religious extremist or just a very angry man.

A man and a woman were detained yesterday morning in Nice, according to an official with the Paris prosecutor’s office, which oversees national terrorism investigations.

The official provided no details on their identities, and said five people detained previously remain in custody. Neighbors said that the attacker’s estranged wife was among them.

Investigators are hunting for possible accomplices to truck driver Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian who had lived in Nice for years.

He was killed by police after ramming his truck through crowds on Nice’s famed seafront after a holiday fireworks display on Thursday night.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is unclear whether Bouhlel had concrete links to the group. The IS statement said he was following their calls to target citizens of countries fighting the extremists.

French officials did not dispute the claim, but they have not provided concrete evidence of a connection.

A source close to the investigation yesterday said that Lahouaiej-Bouhlel visited the Nice promenade with his rented truck on the two days before Thursday’s attack.

Neighbors described the father of three as volatile, prone to drinking and womanizing, and in the process of getting a divorce.

His father, in Tunisia, said his son did not pray or fast for Ramadan.

However, he might have had a swift, recent change toward a more extremist worldview.

French Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve on Saturday told reporters that “it seems he was radicalized very quickly.”

Cazeneuve described the massacre as a “a new kind of attack” that highlighted “the extreme difficulty of the anti-terrorism fight.”

He issued an appeal for young “patriots” to join the reserves.

“I want to call on all French patriots who wish to do so, to join this operational reserve,” said Cazeneuve of the force, which is currently made up of 12,000 volunteers aged between 17 and 30.

Nice’s Promenade des Anglais was gradually reopening and becoming a shrine to the dead, with memorials set up on the westbound lane of the road in spots where victims were felled, some still identifiable by bloodstains.

Joggers, bikers and sunbathers populated the pedestrian walkway along the glistening Mediterranean Sea, where well-wishers placed flowers, French flags, stuffed animals and candles.

The site was also becoming a platform for anger at the attacker. Pained and outraged epitaphs are now written in blue maker on stones placed where police shot him dead.

A woman with a potted plant asked if she could put flowers there, unaware of the significance of the spot. A man standing nearby said “Never here.” An argument ensued, with other passers-by saying that his family deserved respect.

“Are you defending him,” the man said, incredulously.

With scores still hospitalized, including many children, French Minister of Health and Solidarity Marisol Touraine was visiting Nice yesterday, while many people said they were still looking for news of their loved ones among the dead and 121 still hospitalized.

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