IS Claims French Truck Attack

IS Claims French Truck AttackIS Claims French Truck Attack

The self-styled Islamic State terrorist group claimed the truck attack on the French city of Nice on Saturday, as police arrested three people there in connection with 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 IS, said via its Telegram account, Reuters reported.

“He carried out the operation in response to calls to target nationals of states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State,” the statement said.

French authorities said they were checking the claim. The 31-year old Tunisian driver of the truck drove at a Bastille Day crowd on the waterfront of the French Riviera city on Thursday night. Authorities had been working to find out whether his motives were indeed connected to those of IS.

He was not known to French intelligence sources for radicalization.

The arrests, which came on top of two on Friday including the attacker’s wife, concerned the attacker’s “close entourage”, the sources said. They were made in two different areas of Nice.

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

Thursday night’s attack plunged France into new grief and fear just eight months after gunmen killed 130 people in Paris.

The truck zigzagged along the city’s seafront Promenade des Anglais as a fireworks display marking the French national day ended.

It careered into families and friends listening to an orchestra or strolling above the Mediterranean beach toward the century-old grand Hotel Negresco.

The attack is the third of its kind in France since the beginning of 2015, and a state of emergency in place since 130 people were killed in and around Paris last November is to be extended for another three months.

The driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, was shot dead by officers at the scene. He 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.

Ahead of the claim by IS, the militant group that grabbed control of swathes of Iraq and Syria but which is now under military pressure from forces opposed to it, French officials had not disclosed any direct evidence linking Bouhlel with militants.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, asked on Friday if he could confirm the attacker’s motives were linked to militancy, said: “No. ... We have an individual who was not known to intelligence services.”

Relatives and neighbors in Bouhlel’s home town of Msaken outside the coast city of Sousse said he was sporty and had shown no sign of being radicalized, including when he last returned for the wedding of a sister four years ago.