At least three people were killed while several others were wounded in a knife attack near a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday morning, authorities said, in what the city's Mayor said pointed to a terror attack.
One woman was beheaded in the attack while at least two other people were killed at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice, Reuters reported, citing local police.
The incident—which Nice’s Mayor Christian Estrosi said was a “terrorist attack”—took place at about 9 a.m. local time, French broadcaster BFMTV said.
Estrosi told reporters that the suspected attacker was shot by the police while being detained and he is “on his way to hospital, he is alive,” the Reuters report added.
Estrosi also told reporters at the scene that the perpetrator had shouted the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar”, or God is greatest while carrying out the attack.
In another incident, a Saudi man stabbed and wounded a guard at the French Consulate in Jeddah as France urged its citizens in the Gulf nation to be on “maximum alert,” owing to heightened tensions between France and the Muslim world in the past few weeks.
Hours after the Nice attack, police killed a man who threatened passersby with a handgun while shouting “Allahu Akbar” in Montfavet, near the city of Avignon, France, Europe 1 radio reported.
Estrosi drew a parallel between Thursday’s incident and the beheading of a French School teacher Samuel Paty, which took place two weeks ago. “The methods match, without doubt, those used against... Samuel Paty,” he said in a video on Twitter. He added, “Thirteen days after Samuel Paty, our country can no longer be content with the laws of peacetime to counter Islamo-fascism.”
Thursday’s attack comes nearly two weeks after France was rocked by the killing of Paty, who was beheaded in a terror attack in a Paris suburb. On October 16, 47-year-old Paty, who taught history and geography in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, was decapitated by 18-year-old Chechen refugee Abdoulakh Anzorov while walking home from school. Paty had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to his students in a class about freedom of speech, an action that is disallowed by Islam. The attacker, who was shot dead by police after refusing to comply with their orders, had shared a picture of the teacher’s decapitated head on his now-deleted Twitter account, minutes after the attack, claiming responsibility “in the name of Allah.”
Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech announcing his intention to fight “Islamist separatism”, noting that the faith “is in crisis all over the world today”, prompting criticism from several Muslim leaders around the world. After Paty’s death, Macron told a vigil in Paris that his country “would not give up cartoons.” Since Paty’s killing, members of the French public have displayed the controversial cartoons in public marches as an act of defiance and solidarity with the slain teacher. This has prompted anger in parts of the Muslim world, with a call for a boycott of French goods.
Caption: French policemen stand guard a street after a knife attack in Nice on Thursday. Photograph: AFP via Getty Images