PARIS – The Latest on that truck attack in Nice, France (all times local):
The French government is defending its efforts to fight Islamic State extremists abroad and at home, announcing new airstrikes against their strongholds in the past two days.
President Francois Hollande’s Socialist administration has come under blistering criticism from opposition conservatives after last week’s deadly attack in Nice. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy accused the government of bad policies that he says failed to prevent three major attacks in the past 18 months.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve hit back Monday, listing a series of laws and extra police forces created under Hollande’s presidency “to face a threat that France was not prepared for” when he took over from Sarkozy in 2012.
After a special security meeting, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French forces in the U.S-led coalition struck IS targets again overnight and on Saturday. French warplanes have been involved in the operation in Iraq and to a lesser degree in Syria.
France’s interior minister says investigators have no evidence so far that the truck driver who killed 84 people in Nice had links to “terrorist networks.”
Bernard Cazeneuve said Monday on RTL radio that while the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the Bastille Day attack, the driver may have been motivated by IS messages but not necessarily coordinating with a larger network.
Cazeneuve says: “These links for now have not been established by the investigation.”
Authorities say Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian living in Nice, had become recently and rapidly radicalized.
Cazeneuve said 59 people are still hospitalized after the attack Thursday, 29 of them in intensive care, out of 308 people injured overall. Many of the dead and injured were children watching a fireworks display with their families.