The Islamic State group claimed Saturday that the Tunisian man who barreled his truck into a crowd in the French resort city of Nice was a “soldier” of the group. It’s the first claim of responsibility for an attack that claimed 84 lives at a July 14 fireworks display for France’s national holiday.
The claim — circulated on social media by a news outlet affiliated with the group — didn’t name Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the 31-year-old Tunisian who authorities say was behind the wheel as a truck crashed into revelers Thursday night. But the statement quoting an IS security member said the man was following calls from the group to target citizens of countries fighting it.
The veracity of the group’s claim couldn’t immediately be determined, but French officials didn’t dispute it.
What is known publicly about Bouhlel so far suggests a troubled, angry man with little interest in the group’s ultra-puritanical brand of Islam. But, in a statement to reporters, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve hinted that Bouhlel may have had a last-minute adoption of a more extremist worldview.