PARIS/NICE, France The man who killed 84 Bastille Day revelers in the French city of Nice by driving a truck at a crowd had been radicalized recently and quickly, France's Prime Minister told a newspaper as a further 18 victims fought for their lives on Sunday.
The Promenade des Anglais became a crime scene on Thursday night after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel slammed a lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said yesterday they have found no evidence that he was a member of ISIS.
Agence France-Presse and other French media, quoting anonymous police officials, also reported Sunday that Lahouaiej Bouhlel had sent a text message shortly before the attack in which he appeared to ask for more weapons, but it was unclear whom the message had been for and what exactly it had said.
The truck driver who plowed into a Bastille Day celebration in Nice last week, killing 84 people, was reportedly inspired by the horrific attack on Pulse nightclub last month.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, who oversees terrorism investigations in France, said people interviewed by police described the Tunisian father of three as "someone who did not practice the Muslim religion, ate pork, drank alcohol, took drugs and had an unbridled sexual activity". French authorities said the Tunisian-born attacker was inspired by terrorist organizations. Another 17 people were killed in January 2015 in attacks that began with the shooting of journalists working for Charlie Hebdo, a satirical weekly that had published cartoons mocking Islam.
The makeshift anti-shrine lies just a metres from the spot where flowers, candles, teddy bears and messages have been placed for the dozens of people run over by Bouhlel as he careered through a crowd on Nice's Promenade des Anglais on Thursday.
"We are up against challenges and that of terrorism is without doubt one of the largest ones", said Hollande, using a visit to Portugal to urge the whole of Europe to make defence an absolute priority.
"They will not take the promenade away from us", she said.
Bouhlel was shot to death by police after he barreled down the crowded Promenade des Anglais for nearly a mile, crushing and hitting people who had gathered to watch fireworks.
It added: "He carried out the operation in response to calls to target national states that are part of the coalition fighting Islamic State".
The Islamist militant group claimed the attack though, and Valls said there was no doubting the assailant's motives.
The Paris prosecutor's office said five people are now in custody in connection with the truck attack.
The mayor of the southern village of Krzyszkowice, Wladyslaw Dydula, has told the AP that two young women from the village died in the attack in Nice. They were expected to file preliminary charges against the suspects.