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Published: Tue, July 19, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

French Interior Minister says Nice attacker radicalized very quickly


Meanwhile, three of six people detained in connection with the attack were brought to the French intelligence headquarters in Paris on Monday to face eventual terrorism charges.

The 37-year-old man is thought to have been the recipient of the message sent from the mobile phone of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel 18 minutes before he plowed a 19-ton truck into holiday crowds, killing 84 people.

The two men had spoken several times in recent weeks, the sources said without giving further details.

French police officers patrol on the famed Promenade des Anglais in Nice, southern France, three days after a truck mowed through revelers, Sunday, July 17, 2016. The man held is believed to be the recipient of that text message. It alleges that the attacker was responding to its calls to target citizens of countries in the coalition fighting ISIS. He was not on the high-security watch lists that gather information for all those whom we monitor.

Authorities are trying to determine whether Bouhlel, a 31-year-old who had lived in Nice for years, was acting alone in Thursday's attack.

Cazeneuve told France's RTL radio that Bouhlel, a Nice resident from Tunisia, may have been inspired by the Islamic State, but any "links for now have not been established by the investigation".

On the other hand, as Eleanor reports, authorities say "this attack could fit the mold of an individual attacker". The uncle, who still lives in the killer's hometown of Msaken, Tunisia, said the ISIS operative "found in Mohamed an easy prey for recruitment".

He has also enacted Operation Sentinel, introduced after terror attacks in January 2015 that allow 10,000 extra military personnel to boost the ranks of security forces across the country. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters Saturday that "it seems he was radicalized very quickly".

President Francois Hollande's Socialist administration has come under blistering criticism from opposition conservatives after last week's deadly attack in Nice.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that 85 people were still hospitalized, 18 people of them in critical condition.

Cazeneuve maintained that the attack was "of a terrorist nature", despite the fact that the attacker, identified as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, gave no indication he was motivated by politics or religion.

The promenade along the Mediterranean is now lined with flowers and candles, transformed into a makeshift memorial to the victims.

Ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is competing in a November primary for the ticket to run as presidential candidate for France's mainstream center-right parties, said overnight Hollande's government had failed to do all it could.

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