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84 killed in France as terror truck ploughs through crowd (Analysed from various sources, Relevant for GS Main Paper III, Topic: Internal Security)

What was the incident?
An attacker ploughed a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the French Riviera, killing at least 84 people, including 10 children and injuring 202.

Who was behind the attack?
The driver, identified by police sources as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian resident in France, also appeared to open fire before officers shot him dead. He was known to the police in connection with common crimes such as theft and violence but was not on the watch list of French intelligence services, the sources said. 

Cause of concern
The third mass killing in Western Europe in eight months caused more fear across an already anxious continent struggling with security challenges from mass immigration, open borders and pockets of Islamist radicalism.
The attack is the third major one in France in less than 18 months, following last November’s siege of Paris that claimed 130 lives, and the January 2015 attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that left 12 persons dead. 

Who was behind the attack?
No group had officially taken responsibility for the attack so far.

Broad lines for analysis
There are two broad lines of analysis that the attack calls for. The first is the tactical question of how to deal with the “lone wolf”, the solitary potential terrorist motivated by everything from bigotry and mental illness to a genuine belief in the ultra-violent, nihilistic philosophy of the IS. 

Lone wolves are committed to carrying out suicide missions and taking as many innocent lives as possible, sometimes drawing direct inspiration from the words of IS leaders. A case in point here is of IS spokesman Muhammad al-Adnani who has called upon the faithful to “run over [American and French disbelievers] with your car.” How can they be stopped in any part of the world? 

Secondly, a question that countries such as France must ask themselves is a strategic one. For instance, how could the French leadership do more to re-examine the roots of the social alienation and economic misery that engulf so many among its almost five million Muslims and leave them vulnerable to radicalisation? Such introspection could potentially reset deep-seated ethno-religious dissonance.



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