At least three people have been killed and several wounded in a knife attack by an unidentified suspect in the French city of Nice on Thursday morning, in what officials treat as a “terror attack.”
Two of the victims were killed inside the church and at least one them was beheaded, according to a police source. The third victim died while seeking help in a nearby bar, France24 reported.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said there had been a “terrorist attack at the heart of the Notre-Dame basilica,” noting that the suspect for the attack had repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” even after he had been detained by police.
“The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty,” Estrosi said.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the attack and the Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the country has raised the security alert for the French territory to the highest level.
Je suis sur place avec la @PoliceNat06 et la @pmdenice qui a interpellé l’auteur de l’attaque. Je confirme que tout laisse supposer à un attentat terroriste au sein de la basilique Notre-Dame de #Nice06. pic.twitter.com/VmpDqRwzB1
— Christian Estrosi (@cestrosi) October 29, 2020
Meanwhile, two other attacks took place on Thursday, one in another French city close to Avignon, and one in Saudi Arabia.
In another incident, a man armed with a pistol and reportedly threatening passers-by was shot dead by police in southern France, in Montfavet. There were no casualties and police say it is still unclear whether it was an act of terrorism.
Also, in Saudi Arabia, a Saudi citizen wounded a guard in a knife attack at the French consulate in Jeddah, state media and the French embassy said.
“The assailant was apprehended by Saudi security forces immediately after the attack. The guard was taken to hospital and his life is not in danger,” the embassy said in a statement.
The attacks come less than a month after the murder of a French history teacher, Samuel Paty in Paris, who has beheaded for showing cartoons of Prophet Mohammed during a class on freedom of expression.
French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to fight radical Islamism, a decision that was reiterated after the murder of Paty, and which prompted anger to several countries in the East.
Over the weekend, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a personal attack on Macron, suggesting that he get a mental check-up, due to his “problem with Islam,” prompting France to recall its ambassador from Turkey for consultations.
“What’s Macron’s problem with Islam? What is his problem with Muslims?,” Erdogan said in a televised in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.“He needs mental checks,” he added. Erdogan also called on the Turks to boycott French goods, in response to what he says is Paris’ “anti-Islam” agenda, prompting an outcry by the French government.
On Tuesday, the country’s Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin said Turkey should not interfere in France’s domestic affairs, while later in the day, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published its Wednesday’s cover, depicting a caricature of Erdogan sitting in a white T-shirt and underpants and holding a canned drink, along with a woman wearing an Islamic hijab.
The publication added fuel to a row between Turkey and France, with the Turkish presidency vowing to take all legal and diplomatic steps needed in response to the caricature.