Europe

Nice attack: France to examine Bastille Day police actions

Municipal police in Nice, 17 July 16 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Local police in Nice: There are claims that security measures on Bastille Day were inadequate

France is launching an inquiry into police actions in Nice on 14 July, amid claims that there were too few police to block a lorry that killed 84 people.

Just one local police car was on duty at the point where the lorry careered onto the pedestrian promenade, causing carnage, the daily Liberation reported.

The local police had neither enough time nor firepower to stop the lorry driven by a Tunisian killer, it said.

That version of events was disputed by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

He said Liberation was referring to a separate, local police roadblock that was diverting traffic. The main roadblock at the start of the promenade was manned by six national police officers, who were "the first to confront the deadly lorry", he said, adding that two national police cars were stationed there.

The national police inspectorate will conduct the official inquiry, he said, "to establish the truth about that deployment, because futile accusations are being traded".

Suspects in court

Five suspects are to appear in court shortly for alleged links to the driver, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian who was living in Nice.

They include an Albanian couple suspected of providing him with a pistol.

Another suspect is a 22-year-old man believed to have received text messages from Lahouaiej-Bouhlel on the night of the attack, discussing the supply of weapons. Police found a Kalashnikov rifle and ammunition at the man's home, AFP news agency reports.

The so-called Islamic State group said Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was one of its "soldiers" - but the lorry driver had not been on any French police watch list.

As the Bastille Day crowd enjoyed festivities, on Nice's Promenade des Anglais, Lahouaiej-Bouhlel careered his massive white lorry towards them.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Makeshift memorials have been set up along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice

Two police officers opened fire when he mounted the kerb, but he simply accelerated and then zigzagged for up to 2km (1.25 miles), leaving a trail of carnage.

Police finally managed to bring the lorry to a halt, raking the driver's cabin with gunfire. Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was shot dead after he opened fire on police, a prosecutor said.

France has extended its state of emergency until the end of January 2017. It gives the police extra powers to carry out searches and to place people under house arrest.

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