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  • Forensics officers and policemen look for evidence near a truck on the Promenade des Anglais seafront, Nice, July 15, 2016.

    Forensics officers and policemen look for evidence near a truck on the Promenade des Anglais seafront, Nice, July 15, 2016. | Photo: AFP

The father said his son’s attack was possibly due to a nervous breakdown and had nothing to do with politics.

Nice attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was a troubled man who was not religious and might have acted alone. His father, who lost touch with his son years ago, told AFP he had shown no interest in religion as a youth.

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He liked bodybuilding, drinking alcohol and flirting with women and showed no signs of religious radicalization, neighbors and family said Sunday in revelations that cast doubt on the recent claim of responsibility by the Islamic State group and suggest that he possibly acted alone.

The 31-year-old Tunisian father of three, who smashed a 19-ton truck into a crowd of Bastille Day revellers killing 84 people, was known to the police for a series of petty crime but never made it onto the radar of intelligence services.

The Islamic State group said he was a "soldier" who had responded to "calls to target nations of coalition states that are fighting (IS)".

His father, Mohamed Mondher Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who still lives in Tunisia, said, "He didn't pray, he didn't fast, he drank alcohol.

He further suggested that his son suffered from depression. "From 2002 to 2004, he had problems that caused a nervous breakdown. He would become angry and he shouted ... he would break anything he saw in front of him."

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One former neighbor, who asked not to be named, described him as a violent man who had lashed out after his wife requested a divorce.

"He defecated everywhere, he cut up his daughter's teddy bear and slashed the mattress," the neighbor told AFP Sunday. "I don't think there was a radicalization issue, I think there was a psychiatric problem."

Meanwhile French police sources told AFP the information acquired from acquaintances pointed to "a recent conversion to radical Islam" but that there had been no mention yet of any affiliation to the extremist group in Syria and Iraq.


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