French President Emmanuel Macron vowed his country would stand up to religious extremists after a man with knives killed three people in a church. This was the second attack in the country to accuse Islamist terrorism that month.
France will “not give up our values,” Macron said in Nice after a Tunisian migrant raged for almost half an hour with a 30-centimeter knife aimed at people praying in the southern city’s Notre-Dame basilica.
A 60-year-old woman died in the church and the body of a man, a 55-year-old Church employee, was found nearby. His neck was also cut.
Another woman, a 44-year-old Brazilian who fled the church to a nearby restaurant, died shortly afterwards of multiple knife wounds.
“Tell my children that I love them,” she said on French cable channel BFM TV before her death.
The attacker, who was shot and wounded by police, was identified as 21-year-old Brahim Aouissaoui, who arrived in Italy last month and then traveled to France.
Aouissaoui, who had a copy of the Koran and three knives with him, shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) when he was approached by police officers who shot and seriously wounded him, said French anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean -Francois Ricard at a press conference.
The nice mayor Christian Estrosi told journalists on the spot that the attacker had “repeated Allahu Akbar even under medication” when he was taken to the hospital.
The church murders followed the beheading of the history teacher Samuel Paty in a suburb of Paris on October 16 by an extremist after Paty showed the students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a free speech.
Defending the cartoons and the right to make fun of religion, Macron sparked widespread anger against France in the Islamic world and several campaigns in Muslim-majority countries to boycott French products.
– Police prevent “higher tolls” –
Daniel Conilh, a 32-year-old waiter at the Grand Cafe de Lyon in Nice, one block from the church, said it was just before 9:00 am when “shots were fired and everyone ran off.”
“A woman came straight out of church and said, ‘Run, run, someone stabbed people,'” he told AFP.
French counterterrorism prosecutors are investigating charges related to a “terrorist murder”.
The police who shot Aouissaoui “undoubtedly prevented an even higher toll,” said Attorney General Jean-Francois Ricard, adding that investigators had found two unused knives in a pocket at the scene.
The killings, which preceded the Catholic holiday of All Saints on Sunday, prompted the government to raise the terrorist alert level nationwide to the maximum “emergency” level.
– France on high alert –
France has been on high alert since the January 2015 massacre in the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. This was the start of a wave of jihadist attacks that killed more than 250 people.
Tensions have increased since last month when the trial of 14 alleged accomplices in the attack opened.
The paper marked the start of the trial with the republication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that infuriated millions of Muslims around the world – the same cartoons that teacher Samuel Paty used as teaching material.
Days after the trial began, an 18-year-old man from Pakistan seriously injured two people with a meat cleaver outside Charlie Hebdo’s former office in Paris.
In Nice, Macron announced increased surveillance of the churches by the French Sentinelle military patrols, which are to be increased from 3,000 to 7,000 soldiers.
School security will also be increased, he said.
However, some claim that Macron is wrongly targeting France’s estimated five to six million Muslims – the largest community in Europe.
Macron called on people of all religions on Thursday to unite and not “give in to the spirit of division”.
– Painful memories –
On Thursday, a Saudi national wounded a security guard in a knife attack on the French consulate in Jeddah, while police in the French city of Lyon said they had arrested an Afghan with a knife while trying to get on a tram.
In Nice, painful memories remain of a jihadist attack during Bastille Day celebrations on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck onto a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.
Abdallah Zekri, director general of the French Council for Muslim Worship (CFCM), denounced the attack on Thursday and urged French Muslims to end the Mawlid or Prophet’s birthday celebrations, which ends on Thursday, “in solidarity with the victims and to cancel their relatives “. .
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)