Nice reopens promenade area as 18 remain in critical condition

Some 18 people injured during the Bastille Day lorry attack in Nice remained in hospital in a life-threatening condition last night, French health minister Marisol Touraine said.

Police were on duty along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice yesterday as locals and tourists paid their respects. Picture: AP
Police were on duty along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice yesterday as locals and tourists paid their respects. Picture: AP
Police were on duty along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice yesterday as locals and tourists paid their respects. Picture: AP

It was still unclear how many Britons have been caught up in the massacre, caused when French-Tunisian father-of-three Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove the hired ­vehicle into crowds celebrating the French national holiday, killing 84 people.

Bouhel was subsequently killed in a shoot-out with police.

Speaking yesterday, Ms Touraine said a total of 85 people were still in hospital as a result of their injuries, with 18 in a life-threatening condition. While scores of people who were taken to hospital have been released, some may need further medical treatment as their injuries heal, she said.

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Crying relatives hugged each other outside the Hopital Pasteur in Nice yesterday as they learned news of their loved ones.

A medical student aged 21 who volunteered to help at the hospital said he had been one of many who helped in the aftermath of the attack.

He said: “It was all about helping identify and move bodies, dead bodies.”

Six people are now in custody following the attack on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice late on Thursday night.

A seventh person – Bouhlel’s estranged wife – has been released from custody. She is the mother of Bouhlel’s three children, and was in the process of divorcing him.

The promenade reopened around 36 hours after the attack, with holidaymakers walking along the waterside path, which is lined with hotels and restaurants, while police officers kept watch.

Flowers, cards, toys and messages of solidarity marked the spots where bodies had been left strewn on the road in the aftermath of the massacre.

Candles burned late into the night on Saturday as crowds gathered to remember those killed and injured.

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The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed Bouhlel was “a soldier” acting on its behalf by committing the murders.

The IS claim of responsibility came after the French authorities said Bouhlel had no known links with terrorists, unlike those behind previous attacks in Paris.

A former neighbour said the 31-year-old had never spoken about extremism.

Speaking outside the high-rise block of flats on Boulevard Henri Sappia, where the suspect had previously lived with his family, neighbour Samiq, 19, said: “I never heard him speak about extremism, I cannot believe that he was a member of Islamic State.”

He said people thought Bouhlel had psychological problems.

“He was a little bit crazy,” Samiq said, but he added that he was shocked by what had happened.

The apartment on Route de Turin where Bouhlel was believed to be living before the attack was raided by police.

A photograph taken through the keyhole showed items including what appeared to be boxes of medication and a strip of tablets.

The driver’s father has said that Bouhlel had received psychiatric treatment in the past.

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A neighbour and her young daughter said he lived a reclusive life, failing to respond when they said hello.

Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve – who announced yesterday that 12,000 extra police reserves are being called up alongside the 120,000 police and soldiers already 
in place across the country – said that Bouhlel appeared to have been radicalised only recently.

French prime minister Manuel Valls said yesterday it was “without a doubt” that Islamic State was involved in the attack.

In a newspaper interview, Mr Valls added that authorities “now know that the killer radicalised very quickly”.

Speaking in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis prayed for the end of “terror and death” of innocents as he expressed ­closeness to families and all of France mourning the loss of lives.

He told the public that “sorrow is great in our hearts” and prayed that God “disperse every plan for terror and for death, so that no man dare spill more blood of his brother”.

The Pope then invited those in the square to join him in silent prayer.