An attacker with a knife killed at least three people and wounded several others at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday.
The city’s Mayor Christian Estrosi tweeted that police had detained the attacker after shooting him. He suggested that the incident was a “terrorist attack”.
“I am on site with the National Police and Nice Police who arrested the perpetrator of the attack. I confirm that everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Notre-Dame Basilica,” he tweeted in French.
Je suis sur place avec la @PoliceNat06 et la @pmdenice qui a interpellé l’auteur de l’attaque. Je confirme que tout laisse supposer à un attentat terroriste au sein de la basilique Notre-Dame de #Nice06. pic.twitter.com/VmpDqRwzB1
— Christian Estrosi (@cestrosi) October 29, 2020
The mayor claimed that two women and one man were dead. He said two died inside the church and a third who fled to a nearby bar succumbed to her injuries.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the Nice killings.
The country’s President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit the city on Thursday.
A representative of the French Council for the Muslim Faith condemned the attack.
“As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday of Mawlid,” the spokesman said.
The holiday is the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, which is being celebrated on Thursday.
Other confrontations and attacks were reported Thursday in the southern city of Avignon in France and in the Saudi city of Jeddah, but it was not immediately clear if they were linked to the attack in Nice.
In Avignon, an armed man was shot to death by police after he refused to drop his weapon and a flash-ball shot failed to stop him. At the French consulate in Jiddah, a man stabbed a guard before he was arrested.
Less than two weeks ago, an assailant of Chechen decapitated a French middle school teacher, Samuel Paty, for showing pupils caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on free speech.
Since Paty’s killing, French officials have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the slain teacher.
That has prompted an outrage in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.