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Nice Truck Driver Planned Attack a Year Ago, Had Accomplices

by Nancy Ing and Elizabeth Chuck /  / Updated 
Image: The truck that crashed into Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, on July 14, 2016
The truck that drove into a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, is seen on July 15, 2016 ??? the day after the massacre.ANDREAS GEBERT / EPA

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A truck driver who killed dozens on Bastille Day revelers in Nice, France, had been planning the attack for months and had at least five accomplices, the Paris prosecutor said Thursday.

The suspected accomplices — four men and one woman — were in custody in Nice, Francois Molins told a news conference, and were indicted Thursday on various terrorism charges.

While none of the accomplices was known to intelligence agents for ties to Islamic radicalism, one of them — identified as Franco-Tunisian Ramzi A. — had been charged six times for other crimes, ranging from theft to violence.

Ramzi A. and two others, listed as "C. and Shokri Mohamed Walid G" were indicted for "complicity of murder in an organized band in connection with a terrorist enterprise, complicity in attempts to murder in an organized band and in relation with a terrorist enterprise, complicity of assassination attempts on person holding public authority in relation to a terrorist undertaking," prosecutors said in a statement.

Ramsey A. was also indicted for "offenses involving arms in relation with a terrorist enterprise," prosecutors said.

And all five suspects were all indicted on charges of "association of criminal terrorist conspiracy," they said.

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel barreled a 19-ton truck into the crowd on July 14, killing 84 people and injuring more than 200. The rampage ended when Bouhlel was shot dead by police.

Related: American Father and Son Among Those Killed in Nice

Moulins said Bouhlel "benefited from support and complicity" and regularly communicated with the five suspects arrested Thursday, sending a text to one on April 4 that read: "Load the truck with 2000 tons of iron, cut the brake and I’ll watch you.”

Analysis of Bouhlel's cell phone uncovered photos, texts and phone calls that indicated he started planning last Bastille Day, Molins said, adding that Bouhlel took photos of fireworks on July 14, 2015 an in August 2015, and centered the photos around the crowds watching them.

He had also taken a photo of a local newspaper story about a driver who "voluntarily rammed into a restaurant terrace," according to Moulins. Bouhlel also allegedly took a selfie in his truck on the eve of his attack.

Two of the suspects, identified as Shokri and Ramzi A., texted with Bouhlel about truck rental, Moulins said. The two were seen together on surveillance video on July 12, two days before the attack.

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