Just over a week after a bus plowed into pedestrians celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, in what has since been deemed a terrorist attack, French anti-terror police are requesting that local authorities delete images of the attack.
The nation's SDAT anti-terrorism agency is concerned that the images could be could be accidentally leaked to terrorist groups, who could then use them for propaganda purposes, an official with the national police told the Associated Press. A lawyer for the city has submitted a letter of protest, however, saying that the city does not wish to delete the images for legal, administrative, and technical reasons, according to the AP.
The original images are already scheduled for automatic deletion, per Nice city practices, but investigators want to keep copies. French law enforcement has come under criticism for what some say was an inadequate police presence during Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, when a man identified by police as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a car through a crowd of revelers.
While Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve originally stated that national police were guarding the street where the attack occurred, he has since admitted that there was only a light police presence guarding the entrance to the pedestrian zone on the night of the attack.
Investigations have revealed that the attack was not spontaneous, but had been planned for months with the help of accomplices. Five suspects were charged with preliminary terrorism charges on Thursday.
The terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack after it occurred.
France’s Prime Minister François Hollande announced this week that France will send artillery equipment to Iraq in order to help in the fight against the Islamic State militants, though the country will continue to refrain from sending ground troops to the Middle East.
"Even if was France that was attacked July 14, it's the world that was targeted," said Mr. Hollande, adding that investigators were working to determine "the circumstances and the causes of this tragedy, and the eventual networks of the terrorist."
Hollande’s government has received criticism from those who say that the government has not done enough to protect French citizens from attacks like the one in Nice.
Eighty-four people were killed during the attacks, while more than 300 were wounded.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.