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Nice massacre lorry driver known to police for domestic violence

PANIC: A woman cries asking for her son as she walk near the scene of an attack after a truck drove onto the sidewalk and ploughed through a crowd of revellers who had gathered to watch the fireworks in the French resort city of Nice n PICTURE: Luca Bruno/AP

The suspected attacker in the Nice lorry massacre was a father of three known to police for domestic violence, it has been claimed.

Police on Friday identified him as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel (31), a Nice resident, and said he had drawn a gun on them.

He was reported to have French-Tunisian nationality.

More than 200 people were wounded and 84 killed after Bouhlel drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day.

Last night a French prosecutor said that of the 202 people injured, 25 are on life support and 52 in a critical condition.

The children's hospital in Nice said it has treated about 50 youngsters injured in the attack, including two who died during or after surgery.

French prime minister Manuel Valls said the man who drove a lorry was a "terrorist linked to radical Islam".

But prosecutors said that Bouhlel was not known to intelligence services.

Chief prosecutor Francois Molins said police risked their own lives trying to stop the lorry as it travelled more than a mile along the promenade.

Mr Molins said Bouhlel's estranged wife was arrested in Nice yesterday, while Bouhlel narrowly avoided being put behind bars months before the attack.

He said Bouhlel had received a six-month prison sentence in March for a conviction for assault with a weapon, but other legal officials said his sentence was suspended because it was his first conviction.

The weapon used was a palette against another driver after a traffic accident.

A search was launched of his former home, as well as his former marital home. He was said to have separated in 2012.

Neighbours described him as withdrawn, saying he was "alone" and "silent".

He was reported to have hired the vehicle on Monday, taking the biggest from a fleet of lorries - a 19-tonne truck normally used for removals.

Eyewitnesses said the driver swerved from side to side as he drove along the famous Promenade des Anglais on the seafront, before he was shot dead by police.

Afterwards the lorry's front windscreen was riddled with bullets and Bouhlel's body was slumped inside.

Video shot by terrified civilians shows crowds fleeing in panic, leaping off the elevated pavement on to the beach below.

The deaths rocked a nation still dealing with the aftermath of attacks in November in Paris that killed 130 and in January last year that killed 17.

French president Francois Hollande and prime minister Manuel Valls visited the city before three days of national mourning begin on Saturday

"All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorists," Mr Hollande said.

The government has extended the country's nine-month-old state of emergency and vowed to deploy thousands of police reservists on the streets.

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