3 dead as woman beheaded in France, gunman killed in second incident
NICE, France: A knife-wielding attacker beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a suspected terrorist act at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, while a man waving a gun was shot dead by police in a separate incident.
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.
In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, state television reported that a Saudi man had been arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate there. The French Embassy said he was in hospital after a knife attack and his life was not in danger.
Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, said the attack in his city had happened in or near Notre Dame church and was similar to the beheading earlier this month near Paris of teacher Samuel Paty.
Thursday’s attacks came at a time of growing Muslim anger at France’s defence of the right to publish the blasphemous cartoons, and protesters have denounced France in street rallies in several Muslim-majority countries.
After the Nice attack, Prime Minister Jean Castex raised France’s security alert to its highest level and said the government’s response would be firm and implacable.
One of the people killed inside the church was believed to be the church warden, Estrosi said, adding that one woman had escaped from inside the church into a bar opposite the 19th century neo-Gothic building.
“The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained. He is on his way to hospital, he is alive,” Estrosi told reporters.
“Enough is enough,” he added. “It’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace…”
Reuters journalists at the scene said police armed with automatic weapons had put up a security cordon around the church, which is on Nice’s Jean Medecin avenue, the French Riviera city’s main shopping thoroughfare. Ambulances and fire service vehicles were also at the scene.
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. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said the people of Nice “can count on the support of the city of Paris and of Parisians”.
Police said three people were confirmed to have died in the attack and several were injured. The French anti-terrorist prosecutor’s department said it had been asked to investigate. - Reuters