NICE: A knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, slitting the throat of at least one of them, in what officials are treating as the latest jihadist attack to rock the country, reports AFP.
The assailant “kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greater) even while under medication” after he was injured during his arrest, Nice’s Mayor Christian Estrosi told journalists at the scene.A man and a woman died at the Basilica of Notre-Dame, in the heart of the Mediterranean resort city, while a third person succumbed to injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar, a police source told AFP. No mass was underway at the time of the attack, but the church opens around 8:00 am and “people come in to pray at all hours,” Father Philippe Asso, who serves at the basilica, told AFP.
Daniel Conilh, a 32-year-old waiter at the Grand Cafe de Lyon, a block from the church, said it was shortly before 9:00 am when “shots were fired and everybody took off running.”
“A woman came in straight from the church and said, ‘Run, run, someone has been stabbing people’,” he told AFP, and dozens of police and rescue vehicles quickly sealed off the neighbourhood.
French anti-terror prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what Estrosi called an “Islamo-fascist attack”.
France has been on terror alert since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 250 people.
Tensions have run especially high since the trial of suspected accomplices in that attack opened in September, an event the paper marked by republishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that infuriated millions of Muslims worldwide.Just days later, an 18-year-old man from Pakistan seriously injured two people with a meat cleaver outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in Paris.
Emmanuel Macron’s office said the president would travel to Nice on Thursday, just days before French Catholics mark the All Saint’s Day holiday on November 1.