IS claims responsibility for Nice attack

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The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the truck attack in the French city of Nice as police arrested three more people in relation to the carnage that claimed the lives of at least 84 people.

"The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France, to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State," the news agency Amaq, which supports the militant Islamist group, said via its Telegram account.

"He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State."

French authorities and media have yet to produce any evidence that the killer, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was radicalised — the interior ministry said it was checking the claim.

The 31-year old Tunisian, who lived locally,zigzagged through a Bastille Day crowd for nearly two kilometres on the waterfront of the French Riviera city on Thursday night — it was eventually stopped when police shot dead the driver.

At least 10 children and teenagers were killed, with around 50 other children injured, some of them "hanging between life and death", a hospital official said.

Authorities had been working to find out what his motives were — he was not known to French intelligence sources for radicalisation.

Bouhlel was known to police for petty crimes but was not on a watch list of suspected militants.

He had one criminal conviction for road rage, having been sentenced to probation three months ago for throwing a wooden pallet at another driver.

The arrests, which came on top of two others since the killing including the attacker's wife, concerned his "close entourage", police sources said — they were made in two different areas of Nice.

A Reuters journalist reported that about 40 elite police raid a small apartment near the central station, where one individual was arrested.

Islamic State claim is 'cheap': terror expert

Ahead of the claim by the Islamic State group, French officials had not disclosed any direct evidence linking Bouhlel with jihadism.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, asked on Friday if he could confirm the attacker's motives were linked to jihadism, said:

"No ... we have an individual who was not known to intelligence services."

However, Mr Cazeneuve suggested on Saturday that Bouhlel may have been "radicalised very quickly", adding that the spontaneous nature of the incident highlighted the "extreme difficulty of the fight against terrorism".

Relatives and neighbours in Bouhlel's hometown of Msaken outside the coast city of Sousse said he was sporty and had shown no sign of being radicalised, including when he last returned for the wedding of a sister four years ago.

Edwin Bakker, Professor at the Centre for Terrorism and Counterterrorism at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, said the claim did not necessarily point to any formal link.

"They are also using the public perception that an attack like this seems to fit Islamic State.

"Investigators still have not discovered a direct link between Islamic State and the attacker, so it is a cheap claim."

The attack plunged France into new grief and fear just eight months after gunmen killed 130 people in Paris.

A state of emergency in place since the November attacks in Paris is to be extended for another three months.

The attack is the third of its kind in France since the beginning of 2015.

  • There are reports the 31-year-old's identity papers were found in the truck. (AFP: Anne-Christine Poujoulat)

  • French police secure the area as the investigation continues at the scene near the truck that ran into the crowd in Nice. (Reuters: Eric Gaillard)

  • Rescue workers help an injured woman to get in a ambulance after a truck drove into a crowd watching a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. (AFP: Valery Hache)

  • French police forces and forensic officers stand next to a truck that ran into a crowd celebrating the Bastille Day national holiday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France. (Reuters: Eric Gaillard)

  • Police officers and rescued workers stand near a truck that ploughed into a crowd leaving a fireworks display in the French Riviera town of Nice. (AFP: Valery Hache)

  • Medics attend to people injured after a truck crashed into a crowd in Nice. (Twitter: Nice-Matin)



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