Italian police arrest man suspected of helping 2016 Nice attacker

FILE PHOTO: Italian police arrest Endri Elezi, 28, suspected of supplying weapons to Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the man who killed 86 people in July 2016 by driving a truck through a seafront crowd in the French city of Nice, in Sparanise near Caserta, Italy, April 21, 2021 in this still image from video

Italian police said on Thursday they had arrested an Albanian man suspected of supplying weapons to Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed 86 people in July 2016 by driving a truck through a seafront crowd in the French city of Nice.

Police said Endri Elezi, 28, was seized in the late hours of Wednesday in Sparanise, a town close to Caserta, in southern Italy. France had issued a European arrest warrant for him.

“We believe he has been in Italy at least since the start of the year. … We are investigating possible connections between him and other people living in that area or elsewhere in the country,” said anti-terrorism agency chief Diego Parente.

Bouhlel, a Tunisian citizen, was shot dead by police after he carried out the attack at the Promenade des Anglais on July 14, 2016, France’s national Bastille day holiday.

Italy has carried out several operations against suspected supporters of Islamist militants in recent years.

Last March, an Algerian man was arrested in the southern city of Bari on evidence he had provided support to the perpetrators of coordinated attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015.

In 2016, the Tunisian Anis Amri was killed by police in Milan a few days after he carried out a deadly truck attack at the Berlin Christmas market in 2016.

“The arrest of Endri Elezi … confirms the great skills of the state police’s counter-terrorism investigators and the effectiveness of the international cooperation,” Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said in a statement.

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