The massacre in Nice, southern France, carried out by a truck driver shouting “Allahu Akbar” included 10 children among the 84 dead. Later identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the perpetrator drove a white 25-ton refrigerated truck into crowds of men, women, and children who’d just watched a fireworks display to celebrate Bastille Day on July 14, France’s equivalent of America’s Fourth of July.
According to The Sun, Bouhlel, 31, zig-zagged through crowds from Nice’s annual fireworks, running down people in his path for more than a mile as he shouted “Allahu Akbar” while firing a gun at them during the massacre. Police pursuing on foot traded shots with him until they finally killed him amid the carnage he’d created in Nice.
Police reportedly sprayed more than 40 bullets into the refrigerated truck’s windshield, while Bouhlel fired back, using a 7.65 pistol, before being shot dead in payment for the massacre. Scouring inside the cab of the truck rented a few days earlier, authorities found identification documents belonging to the 31-year-old French Tunisian who had turned Bastille Day gory in Nice.
Pundits blame the way the massacre was carried out in Nice to Islamic State chief Abu Mohammed al-Adnani who urged would-be jihadists in 2014 to “run over” Westerners. Appealing to all conscientious Muslims, Al-Adnani encouraged resourcefulness in taking down infidels.
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way, however it may be. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him.”
According to New York Daily News, prior to the massacre in the French Riviera city of Nice, Bouhlel was known to police for his lengthy criminal record but not for any ties with a religious extremist group. He was a bitterly divorced delivery man with priors for armed robbery, domestic violence, and making threats, and he was once arrested for falling asleep while driving for work.
Despite his domestic rap sheet prior to the Thursday night massacre, Bouhlel was not on any terror watch list. A father of three, he appeared to be acting on his own in Nice, and no radical organization has claimed responsibility for what he did to the Bastille Day celebrants.
In a state of emergency since the November Paris attacks, the French are being required to keep their guard up for three more months. President Francois Hollande Friday reacted to the massacre in Nice by extending the emergency, which was due to end on July 26, three extra months, as he pledged to “hit” I.S.I.S. “even harder.”
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manual Valls says France will observe three days of national mourning for the victims of the massacre, beginning Saturday. On top of feeling sorrow for what happened in Nice, he expressed his resolution not to be cowed by terrorists.
“The goal of terrorists is to instill fear and panic, but France is a great democracy that will not allow itself to be destabilised.”
United States President Barack Obama mentioned the massacre during a White House reception for the diplomatic corps, whose ranks include French Ambassador Gérard Araud. Noting that at least two Americans, Sean Copeland and his 11-year-old son Brodie on vacation from Texas, were killed in Nice, Obama called terrorism a shared problem.
“These terrorists are targeting and kill innocent people of all backgrounds and all faiths, including Muslims. And I know I speak for all of us when I say that these individuals and these networks are an affront to all of our humanity.”
In an interview with Fox News, Hillary Clinton proposed an “intelligence surge” in reaction to the massacre in Nice. She cited a need for more cooperation between European intelligence agencies.
“One of the problems in Europe is they don’t share information enough. We need strong diplomacy to avoid future attacks.”
Republican presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump minced no words about the massacre. He told FOX News‘ Greta van Susteren on her nightly show that in light of what happened in Nice, he would crack down on immigration and make it “very, very hard for people to come into our country” from “terrorist areas.”
“Well, it sounds like here we go again. It’s going to be a whole different world. We’re living in a whole different world. There is no respect for law and order. There is no respect for anything or anybody. And this has to be dealt with very harshly.”
A large amount of guns and grenades found inside the refrigerated truck indicated that the massacre in Nice was premeditated.
[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]