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An attacker with a knife killed at least two people and wounded several others near a church in the southern French city of Nice on Thursday, according to police officials. The city’s mayor described the incident as an act of terrorism.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter the knife attack had happened in or near the city’s Notre Dame church and that police had detained the attacker.
Police said at least two people were confirmed to have died after the attack.
The French interior ministry said on Twitter that security and rescue forces were at the site and urged residents to avoid the area.
🔴 ALERTE | Un événement grave a eu lieu à l’église Notre-Dame à #Nice.
Les forces de sécurité et de secours sont sur place.
Évitez le secteur et suivez les consignes des autorités. pic.twitter.com/EjzmPPVRHZ
— Ministère de l’Intérieur – Alerte (@Beauvau_Alerte) October 29, 2020
The assailant was arrested after the attack and taken to a nearby hospital after being injured during his arrest, a police offical said. He was believed to be acting alone, the official said.
France’s lower house of parliament suspended a debate on a new nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and held a moment of silence for the victims.
The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty by a man of Chechen origin, who said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.
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 French leader Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)