Sunday 25 September 2016

Two more people arrested in Bastille Day lorry attack probe as promenade reopens

Aine Fox

Published 17/07/2016 | 12:00

A man covered with a towel is apprehended by French police as the investigation continues two days after an attack by the driver of a heavy truck who ran into a crowd on Bastille Day killing scores and injuring as many on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France, July 16, 2016. Picture: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
A man covered with a towel is apprehended by French police as the investigation continues two days after an attack by the driver of a heavy truck who ran into a crowd on Bastille Day killing scores and injuring as many on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France, July 16, 2016. Picture: REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
People lay flowers and light candles to honor the victims of an attack, on the Promenade des Anglais, near the area where a truck mowed through revelers in Nice, southern France, Saturday, July 16, 2016. A large truck mowed through revelers gathered for Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, killing scores of people and sending people fleeing into the sea as it bore down for more than a mile along the Riviera city's famed waterfront promenade. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
People react near flowers placed on the road in tribute to victims, three days after an attack by the driver of a heavy truck who ran into a crowd on Bastille Day killing scores and injuring as many on the Promenade des Anglais, in Nice, France, July 17, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Detectives investigating the Bastille Day lorry attack have arrested two further people, as tourists return to the French promenade where scores of people were mown down.

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Police said a man and a woman were detained in Nice on Sunday morning, bringing the total number in custody to seven.

The Promenade des Anglais - the scene of the massacre - reopened around 36 hours after Thursday's attack which saw at least 84 people killed and more than 200 injured after a lorry was driven through throngs of revellers celebrating their national day.

Holidaymakers walked along the waterside stretch on Saturday, which is lined with hotels and restaurants, while police officers kept watch.

Flowers, cards and messages of solidarity marked the spots where bodies had been left strewn on the road in the aftermath of the massacre.

Candles burned late into the night as crowds gathered once again in memory of those killed and injured.

A police officer surveys people gathering around a floral tribute for the victims killed during a deadly attack, on the famed Boulevard des Anglais in Nice, southern France, Sunday, July 17, 2016. French authorities detained two more people Sunday 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. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
A police officer surveys people gathering around a floral tribute for the victims killed during a deadly attack, on the famed Boulevard des Anglais in Nice, southern France, Sunday, July 17, 2016. French authorities detained two more people Sunday 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. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
A French flag stands stall amongst a floral tribute for the victims killed during a deadly attack, on the famed Boulevard des Anglais in Nice, southern France, Sunday, July 17, 2016. French authorities detained two more people Sunday 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. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
A police officer watches people gathering around a floral tribute for the victims killed during a deadly attack, on the famed Boulevard des Anglais in Nice, southern France, Sunday, July 17, 2016. French authorities detained two more people Sunday 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. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

The Islamic State group has claimed lorry driver Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was "a soldier" acting on its behalf by committing the murders.

The IS claim of responsibility came after the French authorities said Bouhlel had no known links with terrorists, unlike those behind previous attacks in Paris.

And a former neighbour said the 31-year-old had never spoken about extremism.

Bouhlel drove a 19-tonne hired lorry at speed into masses of people before he was shot dead by police.

Speaking outside the high-rise block of flats on Boulevard Henri Sappia, where the suspect had previously lived with his family, Samiq, 19, who did not want to give his surname, said: "I never heard him speak about extremism, I cannot believe that he was a member of Islamic State."

He said people thought Bouhlel had psychological problems.

"He was a little bit crazy," he said, but he added that he was shocked by what had happened.

The apartment on Route de Turin where Bouhlel was believed to be living before the attack was raided by police, and a view through the keyhole showed items including what appeared to be boxes of medication and a strip of tablets.

The driver's father has said that Bouhlel had received psychiatric treatment in the past.

A neighbour and her young daughter said he lived a reclusive life, failing to respond when they said hello.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who announced 12,000 extra police reserves are being called up alongside the 120,000 police and soldiers already in place across the country, said Bouhlel appeared to have been radicalised only recently.

According to reports, his ex-wife was also being questioned.

The woman, who was estranged from him and had been subject to his domestic violence, was taken into custody for her own protection, French media reported.

Many people are still awaiting news of their loved ones either injured in hospital or missing since the attack.

One man lost six members of his family, French media reported.

An eyewitness said she saw people hanging on to the lorry in a desperate bid to stop the killing spree.

Tita Siren, from Finland, was on holiday in the city and witnessed events from a hotel terrace.

She said: "I recognised that one or two men were trying to open the door of the driver. They were hanging on the door so trying to save other people's lives."

She added: "The whole width of the truck was full of people in front of it and it just drove over the people and they fell, like the driver was bowling."

As the names of victims emerged, questions were asked about the security measures that had been in place during the celebrations.

Regional president Christian Estrosi said a request he had made before the parade for more police officers had been rejected.

He was reported to have said: "There were only 45 national police officers on July 14. It was not enough. I can't hide that I am angry."

But government officials were reported to have claimed that there were 64 national and 42 municipal officers on duty as well as 20 soldiers.

Press Association

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