The Bastille Day attack, carried out by a man said to be a loner with mental health issues, was the latest in a series of strikes by individuals who did not figure on the radar of security forces.
Paris prosecutor François Molins said Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel had been “completely unknown to both France’s domestic and foreign intelligence officials” before the attack claimed by the Islamic State .
“This sort of thing fits in perfectly with calls for murder from such terrorist organisations,” Molins told a news conference, adding the investigation would focus on issues such as potential accomplices, how Bouhlel procured a gun and whether he was connected to radical networks.
Bouhlel lived in the Quartier des Abbatoirs, a neighbourhood near the promenade where he drove a lorry into a crowd, but far removed from the image of warmth, sun and sand that attracts thousands of tourists to Nice every summer. His modest flat in a five-storey block was raided on Friday. Residents spoke of their shock that one of them was responsible for the death of 84 people. The area is home to a many Tunisians.
His estranged wife was taken into custody for questioning, while his father in the Tunisian city of M’saken told AFP his son suffered from depression: “From 2002 to 2004, he had problems that caused a nervous breakdown. He would become angry and he shouted…he would break anything he saw in front of him.”
Walid, who said he was a childhood friend of the attacker, stated the couple were in the process of divorcing, and alleged Bouhlel beat his wife, who had filed a complaint against him.