France terror attack: Hours after beheading in Nice, police shoot down gunman in Avignon

4 weeks ago 24

Security forces guard the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France. (Photo:Reuters)

A knife-wielding attacker beheaded a woman and killed two others in a suspected terrorist attack at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, while a gunman was shot dead by police in a separate incident, news agency Reuters reported.

The gruesome beheading reportedly took place inside Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice on Thursday morning (local time).

Within hours of the Nice attack, police killed a man who had threatened passersby 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 on Thursday, state television reported that a Saudi man had been arrested in the city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate.

The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger.

Nice terror attack

Security forces guard the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France, October 29, 2020. REUTERS

Nice's mayor, Christian Estrosi, who described the attack as terrorism, said on Twitter it had happened in or near the city's Notre Dame church and that police had detained the attacker. Estrosi said the attacker had shouted the phrase "Allahu Akbar", or God is greatest. One of the people killed inside the church was believed to be the church warden, Estrosi said.

— FJ (@Natsecjeff) October 29, 2020

The attacker kept shouting "Allahu Akbar" even after he had been detained, Estrosi said. "The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained, he is on his way to the hospital, he is alive," Estrosi told reporters.

"Enough is enough," Estrosi said. "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."

The accused was believed to be acting alone, a police official told Associated Press. The reason for the attack is unclear, she said.

Also read | Saint-Michel to Notre-Dame, France has a long trail of terror attacks

What happened?

A man entered the Roman Catholic church, the largest in Nice, at around 9 am when the mass was about to begin. He attacked and decapitated at least one woman and then attacked the church warden who rushed to stop him.

The police were also quick to reach the spot. The attacker was caught and taken to hospital. Nice's mayor said the man kept shouting Allahu Akbar even as he was arrested after a brief struggle. He is said to be injured.

There was no word on the identity of the attacker but he is said to be of South Asian or Arab origin.

Nice terror attack: 'Woman beheaded inside church' as three dead in knife attack frenzy and several injured.
Incident occurred at around 9am near the Notre-Dame church in Nice, France.
The attacker kept shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) even after arrest.#Nice #France pic.twitter.com/ls3AX8V9KO

— Geeta Mohan (@Geeta_Mohan) October 29, 2020

French prime minister Jean Castex has said that the country’s threat level increased from attack alert to 'emergency' after church killings in Nice.

‘Victims killed in a horrible way’

Police said three people were confirmed to have died in the attack and several were injured.

A police source said a woman was decapitated. French politician Marine Le Pen also spoke of a decapitation having occurred in the attack. Estrosi said the victims had been killed in a "horrible way".

"The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty," he said, referring to a French teacher beheaded earlier this month in an attack in a suburb of Paris. Estrosi said a woman had tried to escape from inside the church and had fled into a bar opposite the building.

The French anti-terrorist prosecutor's department said it had been asked to investigate the attack.

Solidarity

French 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.

A representative of the French Council for the Muslim Faith strongly condemned the attack. “As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday of Mawlid,” Reuters quoted him as saying. The holiday is the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, which is being celebrated Thursday.

Second attack in a month

The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Paty by a man of Chechen origin.

The attacker had said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.

It was not immediately clear if Thursday's attack was connected to the cartoons, which Muslims consider to be blasphemous.

Since Paty’s killing, French officials - backed by many ordinary citizens - have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the killed teacher.

That has prompted an outpouring of anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

In a comment on recent beheadings in France, the Kremlin said on Thursday it was unacceptable to kill people, but also wrong to insult the feelings of religious believers.

(With Reuters inputs)

ALSO READ | French teacher, who showed students Mohammed cartoons, beheaded; Macron calls it 'Islamist terrorist attack'

ALSO READ | Al-Qaeda threatens Charlie Hebdo for republishing Mohammed cartoons: Report

ALSO WATCH | Terror attack in France's Nice, woman beheaded, 2 others killed

Read Entire Article