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July 22, 2016

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Severe security weaknesses in France and Germany

How could Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel get through the security barrier with his 19-ton truck at the Promenade des Anglais in Nice? Contrary to official versions that the truck driver forced his way through, Libération reveals that eye-witnesses and photos tell another story. According to those, there was only one municipal police car to secure the entrance to the pedestrian zone. Also, the makeshift barriers did not cover the full stretch of the seaside promenade, allowing Bouhlel to drive on the sidewalk which had been left unguarded.

The leading investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné found that records of police meetings showed officials had initially planned to introduce systematic body searches around the pedestrian area, before abandoning the plan "due to a shortage of personnel".

Another astonishing fact is that there were two bans in place, one for trucks above 7.5 tons during the festivities of Bastille day, and the second for trucks above 3.5 tons in the city centre. Despite both bans, Bouhlel was allowed to pass with a 19-ton truck, France 24 reports. No one seems to have noticed either that this was not a refrigerated truck, which should have raised suspicion after Bouhlel told police officers he had ice-cream to deliver in the back of his vehicle. Also, people on local radio wonder why there had not been concrete barriers  blocking access to areas with large crowds, as had been the case for the Euro 2016 football tournament.

The blame game is on since day 1 after the attacks. Christian Estrosi, former mayor of Nice and president of the local region, accuses the government of "lying" about the number of national police officers deployed along the seafront. Manuel Valls sent a strong rebuttal refusing categorically any failures of the national police service. Over the coming weeks the French government will be under pressure for explanations.

The same goes for the German government after a FAZ exclusive on the the Afghan refugee who committed a brutal axe attack on a German train earlier this week. The paper reveals that he had not been checked upon entry into Germany. The German government, too, is now coming under increasing pressure.

Our other stories

We also have stories on what Brexit compromise we think is most likely; on the EU's lacklustre reaction to the Turkish state of emergency; on Sigmar Gabriel's incompetent handling of a competition case, and the consequences; on Draghi calling for action on NPLs; on Greek electoral reform; and on the continued prospect of no Spanish government.

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