France suspects terrorist acts as knife attack in Nice church kills 3

2020-10-29 18:00:50 GMT2020-10-30 02:00:50(Beijing Time) Sina English

French members of the elite tactical police unit RAID leave after searching the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice after a knife attack on Thursday as forensics officers prepare to enter.

A knife-wielding attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar” killed three people, slitting the throat of at least one of them, in a suspected terrorist act at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, while a man waving a gun was shot dead by police in a separate incident.

Within hours of the Nice attack, police killed a man who had threatened passers-by with a handgun in Montfavet, near the southern French city of Avignon. He was also shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest), according to radio station Europe 1.

In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, state television reported that a Saudi man had been arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate. It was not immediately clear if the incidents were linked to the attack in Nice.

Nice’s mayor Christian Estrosi said the attack in his city had happened in or near Notre Dame church and was similar to the beheading earlier this month near Paris of teacher Samuel Paty, who had used cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class.

The attacks, on the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, came at a time of growing Muslim anger at France’s defense of the right to publish the cartoons, and protesters have denounced France in street rallies in several Muslim-majority countries.

After the Nice attack, Prime Minister Jean Castex raised France’s security alert to its highest level and said the government’s response would be firm and implacable.

“The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained. He is on his way to hospital, he is alive,” Estrosi told reporters.

Three people were killed including a woman who the attacker tried to decapitate in the church, according to officials.

A man was also found dead inside the 19th century neo-Gothic building, while another woman with knife wounds who managed to escape to a nearby bar died soon afterward.

Police said several others were injured but added that the death toll is not expected to rise. The French anti-terrorist prosecutor’s department said it had been asked to investigate.

The attacker was believed to be acting alone and police are not searching for other assailants, said two police officials, who were not authorized to be publicly named.

One of the people killed inside the church was believed to be the church warden, Estrosi said.

He said the attacker had repeatedly shouted the phrase “Allahu Akbar” even while being detained by police.

“Enough is enough,” he added. “It’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islamo-fascism from our territory.”

President Emmanuel Macron is due to visit Nice, Estrosi said.

In Paris, lawmakers in the National Assembly observed a minute’s silence in solidarity with the victims.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the attack in Nice amid heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of France against terror and violence,” a statement said.