- Family searched for days for missing mother of four
- They’ve learned she was one of 84 killed in terror attack
On Sunday, the family received the news it never wanted to hear.
“My sister died. I got the confirmation today. She died right away during the attack,” her brother, Bilal Bouilfane, told CNN.
“She was a very kind woman. She had four children, and worked at the clinic. She was a practicing Muslim,” he says.
Bouzaouit, in her 40s, had taken two of her four children down to the promenade on Thursday to attend the Bastille Day celebrations, which culminates in a huge fireworks display in the evening.
Just minutes after the fireworks ended, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel began his rampage , shooting at the crowd and plowing them down with a rented 20-ton refrigerator truck. ISIS has claimed Bouhlel as one of their “soldiers,” although officials say a clear link to the extremist group has yet to be established.
Eighty-four people were killed in the attack. Bouzaouit’s children survived.
Difficult task to ID victims
Until Sunday, less than half of those victims had been identified, largely due to the severity of the damage to the bodies.
On Tuesday, the Italian foreign ministry identified four more Italian nationals, adding to its earlier identification of Mario Casati, whom it named Monday. The additional names were Carla Gaveglio, Maria Grazia Ascoli, Gianna Muset and Angelo D’Agostino.
According to the ministry, the victims’ families have been informed and are receiving assistance from the Italian consulate.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said Monday that 71 have now been identified, meaning the waiting for many of the families is over, but the grieving process is only just beginning.
Aldjia Bouzaouit’s family had feared the worst, but relatives still held on to hope that she had survived. Now they face the heartbreaking task of telling Aldjia’s two other children who have been on holiday in Algeria with their grandparents.
“They left two weeks ago, and now they want to come back to see their mom,” Bilal Bouilfane says. “I’ve been lying to them for the last two days. I give them hope, when I knew that it was over.”
Prayers were said Sunday for Aldjia during a service for victims at a local mosque.
During the service, some people rose to speak, saying “I lost my nephew,” “I lost my grandchild and my daughter,” and “I lost my wife.”
The mosque lost 10 members in the attack, a poignant reminder that Thursday’s massacre was an attack against everyone, regardless of religion or nationality.
That solidarity is bringing the people of Nice together in grief.
“Tonight’s gathering helps us. It’s beautiful, when I see Christians, Jewish people and Muslims,” Aldjia’s brother Bilal says. “Everyone hugged me today, in the streets, people from all faiths, all colors. Everyone got together, and it’s beautiful.”