PARIS, July 22 (UPI) — Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed 84 people in a Nice, France, terrorist attack on July 14, had accomplices and planned the attack for months, a Paris prosecutor said.
Prosecutor Francois Molins, in charge of terrorism investigations in France, said Thursday five suspected accomplices were arrested, adding charges would include murder, attempted murder, terrorist conspiracy, and the possession and transportation of weapons. He noted, though, there is no evidence Bouhlel or his alleged collaborators had any connection to the Islamic State, although the militant group referred to Bouhlel as a soldier in their terrorism campaign.
Bouhlel, 31, was shot and killed by police after he drove a cargo truck into a crowd gathered on the Nice waterfront to watch Bastille Day fireworks.
Early reports suggested Bouhlel, a Tunisian citizen, was recently radicalized, but Molins said investigators confirmed what he termed “the premeditated character” of the attack. Investigations found photos, text messages and telephone records indicating Bouhlel was in contact with alleged accomplices for a year. The fingerprints of one, identified as Chokri C., were found on the door of the truck Bouhlel used as a weapon of terror, Molins said.
Neither Bouhlel nor any of those arrested were known to French intelligence services, Molins said.