Several knife attacks shook France. Three people were killed in an attack in Nice and others were injured. The public prosecutor’s office has now announced the first information.
In the deadly knife attack in Nice, the attacker seriously injured the victims in the throats. A 60-year-old woman has a deep throat slit, anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-François Ricard said in Nice on Thursday evening. He spoke of a kind of beheading. The dead sexton was also seriously injured in the throat. A third seriously injured victim had fled. The 44-year-old subsequently succumbed to her injuries outside the church.
The attacker entered the church in central Nice around 8:30 am and stayed there for about half an hour, attacking the victims. At around nine o’clock, the police intervened, injured and arrested the alleged attacker. “The officials have no doubt avoided an even more dramatic outcome,” said Ricard. The attacker was seriously injured and in danger of death.
Emergency services found a Koran and telephones. In addition, the murder weapon, a knife about 17 centimeters long, was discovered with the attacker. Ricard said two unused knives have also been found. The attacker was carrying a document from the Italian Red Cross issued to a Tunisian citizen born in 1999. Ricard added that he entered the Italian island of Lampedusa in September.
France, meanwhile, has declared the highest level of terror warning and President Emmanuel Macron spoke of an “Islamist terrorist attack”. France had been attacked, said the head of state in Nice. It is the third attack in France in a few weeks.
In Notre-Dame: terrible attack on two people
According to the media, the attack took place around 9 in the morning in the Notre-Dame church in the middle of Nice’s shopping street. Two people were killed “in a horrible way” in the church, Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said. The road recalls the death of teacher Samuel Paty, who was murdered two weeks ago, Estrosi explained.
Paty had been beheaded near his school in a Paris suburb. At least one of the victims in Nice has had their throat slit, Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, president of the French Bishops’ Conference, said French news agency AFP. The basilica’s 45-year-old sexton is also among the dead. A woman was able to take refuge in a nearby cafe and eventually died there, Mayor Estrosi said. Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed that three people were killed.
France, Nice: A man prays in the street in front of the Notre Dame church after a knife attack. (Source: dpa)
Perpetrators only recently came to Europe via Lampedusa
According to Estrosi, the hit man shouted “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”). According to data from dpa, it is a man who was born in Tunisia in 1999. Parisian MP Éric Ciotti from the region said the alleged perpetrator had only recently come to Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa. Early in the evening, the detectives had not made any comments about the perpetrator or the course of events.
Castex spoke of a “vile” and “barbaric” attack and announced a firm response from the government. The “Urgence Attentat” phase of the “Vigipirate” anti-terrorist alert plan had been announced, he said in the Paris National Assembly. This level of alert allows an extraordinary mobilization of resources in the fight against terrorism.
Macron announced increased protection for churches and schools. The army’s domestic anti-terrorist operation “Sentinelle”, which has been running for some time, is to be expanded from 3,000 to 7,000 soldiers. Today, the entire nation stands behind our fellow Catholic citizens, Macron said near the crime scene. One should not give in to the spirit of division.
France, Nice: Police officers stand near the scene of a knife attack in front of Notre Dame church in the southern French coastal city of Nice. (Source: dpa)
The 42-year-old had traveled to the southern French metropolis in the afternoon and exchanged ideas with security forces. After the brutal attack in the afternoon, the bells in many churches in the country rang promptly at 3 p.m. The anti-terror prosecutor took over the investigation of the case. She conducts research into murder in connection with a terrorist project.
Tunisia condemns the attack
The Tunisian public prosecutor’s office has also started an investigation. After initial information on the identity of the alleged attacker, the investigation began, deputy prosecutor and spokesman for the Tunis court, Mohsen Dali said on Thursday evening. In case the judicial authorities ask for cooperation, they are available.
Tunisia’s anti-terror law requires prosecution of any Tunisian who has been involved in a terrorist attack inside or outside the country, Dali said. Tunisia condemned “the terrorist incident in Nice” in the strongest possible terms, Tap news agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. In a statement, the North African country reaffirmed its “complete rejection of all forms of terrorism, extremism and violence” and expressed its condolences to the families of the victims.
The teacher’s murder had previously triggered sexual assault
Just two weeks ago, the brutal murder of teacher Paty had caused great horror across the country. According to researchers, the motive of the 18-year-old attacker was that Paty showed caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in a class on the subject of freedom of speech.
In late September, a young man wounded two people with a knife for the former editorial staff of the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo”. At the start of the 2015 brutal terror series trial, in which many of the newspaper’s illustrators were murdered, the magazine republished cartoons of Mohammed. Here too, the attacker gave the caricatures as a motif.
Emmanuel Macron, President of France, and Christian Estrosi, Mayor of Nice: Macron announced increased protection for churches and schools. (Source: Eric Gaillard / dpa)
Conflict with Turkey over freedom of expression
After the attack on Paty, Macron had defended freedom of speech and the publication of religious cartoons. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went on to speak of a “lynching campaign” against Muslims in Europe and called for a boycott of French goods.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced an emergency meeting on Twitter, while Prime Minister Jean Castex left the ongoing parliamentary debate on the new lockdown. Interior Minister Darmanin had repeatedly warned of a high risk of terrorism in the country.
Mayor Estrosi wrote on Twitter that Nice was again touched by Islamist terror: “13 days after #SamuelPaty, our country can no longer be satisfied with trying to destroy Islamist fascism with peace laws”.
Other cases in France – connection not confirmed
There were further incidents in France on Thursday, but a connection to the Nice attack could not be initially confirmed. Police killed a suspected attacker in Avignon, southern France, who reportedly threatened passers-by with a gun. According to police circles, there was initially no question of a terrorist background. AFP reported that the man must have had mental health problems. A man armed with a knife was arrested in Lyon. No one was injured, the man was known in security circles.
A security officer was also attacked and slightly injured at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The perpetrator has been arrested. The exact background to the act initially remained unclear. The French embassy in Riyadh spoke of a “knife attack” in a report. The French in Saudi Arabia were also called upon to be “extremely vigilant”.
Acts contrary to all religions
There was great worldwide sympathy after the murderous attack. Saudi Arabia has clearly condemned the attack, according to the state news agency SPA. “Such extremist acts are contrary to all religions and all human beliefs,” said the State Department. At the same time, it is important to reject such “behaviors” that lead to hatred, violence and extremism, the ministry said without being more specific.
Italy, Rome: Matteo Salvini, Chairman of the League, holds a sign saying “Stop Islamic Terror” during a protest in front of the French embassy. (Source: dpa)
The summit of the EU institutions gave France their solidarity. The whole of Europe is in solidarity with the country, Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission wrote on Twitter. Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed his “deep condolences”. Pope Francis expressed his closeness and condolences to the mourners. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the attack “horrible”.
US President Trump wrote on Twitter that the US was “on France’s side in this struggle.” Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the act as an “act of heinous violence” and stressed: “We must be determined to counteract the violence and Islamic motives that apparently lie behind it.”
Nice was hit by a terrorist attack in 2016, killing 86 people. France has been ravaged by a wave of Islamist terrorism for years.