A terrorist who used a hired lorry to kill at least 84 people in a rampage during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice has been named as a convicted criminal well known to the police for armed attacks.
Tunisian-born– 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.
The 31-year-old delivery driver’s wife is this afternoon in police custody as officers question her about his alleged Islamist links. Bouhlel was reportedly not on a terrorist watch list and investigators are seeking to establish his motives – and are also looking for possible accomplices.
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.
As hundreds remained in hospital – including 50 fighting for their lives in intensive care – investigators have been searching the home of Bouhlel in the Abattoirs area of Nice and carried out a controlled explosion on a white box van nearby.
Investigating sources said Bouhlel’s last appearance in a criminal court was as recently as March, when he was found guilty of violent contact. Despite this, he had no known links with terrorism and was not under surveillance.
Neighbors described him as a “very weird loner” and father of three who had recently become estranged from his wife and had become depressed following the breakdown of his marriage.
A woman living in the same shabby apartment block as Bouhel today told how he “seemed very weird”. She told The Telegraph: “He lived alone. He said very little to anyone and wasn’t very polite. He wouldn’t hold the door open for you.”
Bouhel left his French identity card in the hired 19-tonne lorry used to murder dozens of people on Thursday night.
His truck had zigzagged through crowds massing on the Promenade des Anglais, killing anyone he could.
After being stopped by armed police, who fired bullets into the lorry’s windscreen, he exchanged fire with officers using a 7.65 pistol before being shot dead.