PARIS—French lawmakers were Tuesday to debate extending the country’s state of emergency for a fourth time after the massacre in Nice amid mounting criticism of the government’s response to a slew of terror attacks.
President Francois Hollande had planned to lift the measures this month but changed tack after the carnage wrought by a truck driver in a crowd leaving a Bastille Day fireworks display.
The ruling Socialists have proposed a three-month extension but government sources told AFP that they would cede to the demands of the conservative opposition to keep the draconian security measures in place until the beginning of 2017.
In contrast with the shows of unity that prevailed after the previous such attacks, the government has been pilloried by the opposition in the wake of the Nice assault, which came nine months before presidential and parliamentary elections.
Seventy people were still hospitalized in Nice on Tuesday, 19 in critical condition.
On Monday, investigators said that 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who used a 19-ton truck to mow down people, had shown “recent interest” in jihadist activity.
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said there was no evidence of Bouhlel’s allegiance to IS but a search of his computer “showed a clear, recent interest for the radical jihadist movement.”
In the two weeks prior to the attack Bouhlel carried out near-daily internet searches for IS propaganda videos and readings from the Koran, Molins said.
The father-of-three also searched for information about the terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left 49 dead, and the Paris suburb of Magnanville where a police couple was killed last month. Both attacks were linked to IS.
His computer contained pictures of corpses and fighters posing with the IS flag.
The Nice attack came eight months after IS jihadists killed 130 people across Paris, and 18 months after three days of terror at the Charlie Hebdo weekly and a Jewish supermarket killed 17.
Thirteen of the 84 victims have yet to be identified.
Unlike the perpetrators of the Paris attacks, Bouhlel, a petty criminal with a history of violence and depression, did not travel to the Middle East for training or jihad.
In March, Bouhlel received a suspended sentence for “armed assault” after beating a driver with a nail-studded plank in an episode of road rage.