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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2522

Five people arrested following the Bastille Day attack

Paris, 16 July, (Asiantribune.com):

Five people have been arrested following the Bastille Day attack, which killed 84 people in Nice injured more than 200 people on the Promenade des Anglais, are in police custody according to the Paris prosecutor's office.

Three arrests were made on Saturday and two on Friday, including the man’s estranged wife, Le Monde reported.

In th meantime, ISIL claimed responsibility Saturday for the attack by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel who used a hired lorry to kill at least 84 people in a rampage during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice.

An Islamic State-run media outlet says the man who drove his truck into a crowd in the French coastal city of Nice is a "soldier" of the group.

The Aamaq news agency on Saturday cited a "security source" as saying the attacker "carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of coalition countries fighting the Islamic State."

French authorities said they were checking the claim.

Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel - described as a "weird loner" who "became depressed" when his wife left him - was a French passport holder who lived in the Riviera city and was regularly in trouble with the law.

Bouhlel was reportedly not on a terrorist watch list and investigators are seeking to establish his motives - and are also looking for possible accomplices.

The estranged wife of killer Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was still being held by police on Saturday morning, a judicial source told news agency Agence France Presse.

At least 10 children are among the dead following the "cowardly and barbaric" atrocity that left several British national among the many injured.

Officials feared the death toll will rise, as dramatic footage emerged of the mass killer being shot dead by police in the cab of his truck after unleashing carnage on the 30,000-strong crowd. The country has begun three days of mourning.

A police source has told The Telegraph that Bouhel might have been motivated more by a desire to commit suicide than by an Islamist ideology. The source who is close to the investigation said that the 31 year old attacker may have been “a suicide case who decided to make his suicide look like an Islamist attack. Investigators are being cautious about definitively ascribing a motive for the time being.”

French President Francois Hollande met with his defence and security chiefs and cabinet ministers Saturday morning, and cancelled his forthcoming visits to Slovakia and the CzechRepublic.The scheduled stops were part of a trip to five European countries meant to discuss the future of the European Union after Britain voted to leave the bloc.

Investigators are considering the possibility that the delivery driver who massacred 84 people in Nice on Bastille Day might have been motivated more by a desire to commit suicide than by Islamist ideology.

Despite a claim by Isil that it ordered the attack, describing Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel as a “soldier of Islam”, a source close to the investigation told the Telegraph that he may have been “a suicide case who decided to make his suicide look like an Islamist attack. Investigators are being cautious about definitively ascribing a motive for the time being.”

The father and neighbours of Bouhlel, 31, also said he was not an observant Muslim. They described him as psychologically troubled and prone to violence.

However, David Thomson, an expert on Islamist terrorism, pointed out that Isil has never been known in the past to claim an attack it did not order and plan.

“Until now, they’ve never claimed an attack opportunistically although they could have done so many times,” Mr Thomson said.

“There must be links (with radical Islam) and if they’re claiming it, that must mean there’s proof of those links and they will make them public.”

Isil has also urged followers to drive into crowds with lorries, the modus operandi adopted by Bouhlel.

Investigators who have been examining Bouhlel’s phone records have found evidence that he was in contact with known Islamic radicals but an intelligence source cautioned: “That could just be a coincidence, given the neighbourhood where he lived. Everyone knows everyone there. He seems to have known people who knew Omar Diaby.

Diaby is a known local Islamist believed to be linked with the Al Nusra group close to Al Qaeda, but not with Isil.

Five people who knew Bouhlel are being questioned by police, including his estranged wife who went to a police station of her own accord.

The French government has also made contradictory claims about Bouhlel’s motives.

The prime minister, Manuel Valls, said on national television on Friday evening that he was “a terrorist undoubtedly linked with radical Islam in one way or another.”

However, the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, asked on another TV channel around the same time if he could say whether Bouhlel was linked with radical Islam, answered: “No.”

The government is under criticism for failing to stop terrorist attacks in France including the Charlie Hebdo and November 13 massacres in Paris, and for relying too heavily on the deployment of large numbers of police and soldiers under an eight-month state of emergency.

Many French people feel the authorities are too complacent. President Francois Hollande was booed when he visited Nice on Saturday after the Bastille Day massacre.

The government has dismissed the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into the Paris attacks which highlighted “multiple intelligence failings” and recommended a shake-up of the six intelligence agencies operating in France.

After a five-month inquiry, MPs called for the creation of a single, American-style national counter-terrorism agency. They said the different agencies and police services had failed to exchange information and coordinate their responses to the attacks.

However, Mr Cazeneuve said the intelligence agencies had been re-organised after the November attacks in Paris in which 130 died, and it would be unwise to subject them to further changes.

The Bastille Day massacre in Nice left 84 dead, including 10 children and 202 injured, 52 of whom are fighting for their lives.

- Asian Tribune –

'Loner' Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was killed by police after unleashing carnage on the 30,000-strong crowd in Nice
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