A man wielding a knife outside a church in the southern French city of Nice killed three people, including one was decapitated, and injured several others before police apprehended him, terror officials said Thursday. The suspected assailant was detained shortly after the attack by security forces around 9:00 local time, a police source said.
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter, “I can confirm everything lets us think this was a terror attack in the Notre-Dame Basilica,” in the city centre. France has been on high alert for terror attacks since the January 15 massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and the trial of suspected accomplices in that attack is currently underway in Paris.
A wave of jihadist attacks on French soil, often by so-called “lone wolf” assailants, has killed more than 250 people since 2015. The assault prompted lawmakers in parliament to hold a minute of silence, before Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers abruptly left for an emergency meeting with President Emmanuel Macron.
France’s national anti-terror prosecutors have since opened a murder inquiry. Estrosi told journalists at the scene that the assailant “kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greater) – even while under medication.” It was also revealed that President Macron would be arriving in Nice later this afternoon…
J’ai eu le Président de la République au téléphone qui m’a temoigné ses remerciements a la @pmdenice et à l’ensemble des forces de l’ordre et m’a demandé de transmettre aux Niçois, vers lesquels il se rendra en fin de matinée, tout son soutien. #Nice06— Christian Estrosi (@cestrosi) October 29, 2020