The UK Telegraph newspaper, citing the local newspaper in Nice, France, says the Bastille Day terrorist shouted “Allahu Akbar” before police shot him, ending the massacre that killed more than 80 people. The gunman was identified as 31-year-old delivery driver and father, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a French-Tunisian, by local Nice media, citing sources.
Other media are now reporting the same detail:
UK Telegraph reported, specifically:
The local newspaper, Nice-Matin, reports that the man driving the truck was a 31-year-old Nice resident of Tunisian origin. The truck driver was said to have shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ — God is greatest — before being shot dead by police.”
The UK Daily Mail reported the same detail, writing: “The truck driver was said to have shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is greatest – before being killed.” Russian media also reported that detail, citing BFM. Authorities have not yet confirmed or denied the accounts, and, throughout the night, some details have shifted as more is learned.
French President Francois Hollande said children were killed in the carnage, in which the man – now identified as Bouhlel – drove a large truck into the crowd for more than 1 mile. He was known to authorities for common law crimes but not to intelligence services, said UK Telegraph. However, by July 16, French authorities were saying they believed Bouhlel was “radicalized very rapidly” and that they found his phone number in connection with an investigation into a jihadi named Omar Diaby, who once lived in Nice and recorded YouTube videos, said CNN.
CNN added that ISIS has now claimed its “soldier” carried out the attacks, although authorities believe it’s possible Bouhlel was loosely influenced but not trained by ISIS, similar to Omar Mateen in Florida. However, authorities are also studying whether the Diaby link is just a coincidence due to the neighborhood where Bouhlel lived, and he had only recently started going to the mosque, said UK Telegraph. It’s possible Bouhlel was just trying to commit suicide, the news site said.
Hollande said French authorities believed it was a terrorist attack, CNN said, and pledged to defeat those who would attack France on her day of liberty – Bastille Day, which celebrates the storming of the Bastille in the French Revolution.
Read more details on the terrorist attack here.
Bouhlel was identified through an identity document found in the truck. The horrific attack took place along a promenade in Nice; the gunman drove up the number of casualties by switching to a gun and shooting people, authorities said. The number killed rose to 84 by early Friday and included at least two Americans, Sean and Brodie Copeland, a father and son who lived near Austin, Texas, and were on a family vacation to Europe. The gunman was killed after running to a local restaurant, some news reports said, although The UK Daily Mail reported he was killed by a police marksman while at the wheel of the truck.
Hollande confirmed the terrorist was dead and said authorities are investigating whether he had any accomplices. On July 15, Bouhlel’s ex-wife and four men were being questioned, CNN said.
The attack, which President Barack Obama called “horrific,” was captured by many people on graphically disturbing videos and photos that were widely shared on social media. One video shows the truck careening down the road, and another shows people’s bleeding and twisted bodies scattered throughout the scene (warning graphic):
ISIS supporters applauded the attack, even posting a celebratory hashtag that they wanted people to use and images of the Eiffel Tower burning.
The New York Times says one of the first victims was a Muslim woman crushed by the truck, although victims’ names have not yet been released: