Photos from the scene of Thursday night’s violence show the truck that stormed the Promenade des Anglaise riddled with bullet holes, many scattered across the windshield. According to counterterrorism sources speaking to DEBKAfile, the windshield, as well as the side windows of the cab, was bulletproof.
Photos show multiple points on the windshield that were struck by bullets. The glass did not shatter, and coupled with the fact that the bullets left small, round holes that did not fracture out, this strongly suggests that the windshield was replaced with bulletproof glass or coated with bullet-resistant material, according to experts.
This indicates that the driver, identified as 31-year-old Tunisian native Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhel, planned extensively prior to the attack.
The French government facing criticism for failing to be adequately prepared for an attack. Being equipped with heavier weaponry would have allowed authorities to penetrate the glass or puncture the vehicle’s tires.
Experts said the type of handguns used by police in Nice were not powerful enough to stop a truck of that size, according to DEBKAfile.
Given that France has been on high alert since the November 2015 coordinated terror attacks that struck Paris, killing 130 people, security experts say the government should have been more prepared for potential violence on a major French holiday.
France has been under a state of emergency aimed at preventing these kind of attacks. While it was set to expire on July 26, French President Francois Hollande declared that the state of emergency would be extended an additional three months, in light of last night’s massacre.
Authorities say that Bouhel was known to police because of past instances of violence and theft. He was given a suspended six-month prison sentence earlier this year in relation to violence with a weapon.
The truck sped through a crowd gathered along the Promenade des Anglaise for a Bastille Day firework display. Witnesses estimate the truck traveled between 20 and 25 miles per hour for 1.2 miles before stopping.