Lorry Driver Plotted Attack in Nice for Months

Lorry Driver Plotted Attack in Nice for MonthsLorry Driver Plotted Attack in Nice for Months

The man who killed 84 people when he drove a lorry through crowds in the French city of Nice planned the attack for months, and had the help of at least five accomplices, authorities have said.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said on Thursday that five suspects–four men and one woman–currently in custody were facing preliminary “terrorism” charges for their alleged roles in helping 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel in the July 14 attack, Al Jazeera reported.

Molins’ office opened a judicial inquiry into a battery of charges for the suspects, including complicity to murder and possessing weapons tied to a “terrorist” enterprise.

Bouhlel, a Tunisian national living in Nice, was shot dead by police after ramming a lorry through a large crowd celebrating Bastille Day, France’s national holiday.

But Molins said information from Bouhlel’s phone showed searches and photos that suggested he could have been preparing an attack as far back as 2015.

Among the images he viewed were photographs of the July 14, 2015, Nice fireworks display and of a concert on the Promenade des Anglais “focusing on the crowd”, he said.

Our correspondent said that the latest revelations by prosecutors raised questions about why the French intelligence failed to pick up information from Bouhlel, or his suspected accomplices.

“They had a long time to plan and the intelligence services simply didn’t have them on their radar and that is a very worrying gap in the intelligence community here in France,” he said.

Molins also said that one of the five suspects had filmed the scene of the crime the day after the carnage.

Prosecutors requested the five suspects be charged with conspiracy to commit “terrorism”, among other crimes, according to Mollins.

They will be presented to anti-terrorism judges later on Thursday.

The self-styled Islamic State terrorist group claimed the attack, though authorities said they had not found any signs that the group had directed it.

The attack also injured more than 200 people and left the area strewn with bodies, including many children.