A suspected Tunisian migrant has killed three including beheading a woman in a bloody rampage in a church in Nice — as France was rocked by two different terror attacks within a single day, while there was a third attack at its embassy in Saudi Arabia.
The suspect in the Nice attack was named as Brahim Aoussaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian who had arrived in Europe just weeks ago. CBS news reports, the suspected terrorist stormed the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice with a knife killing three in a brutal rampage including beheading a woman who was reportedly in her 70s, in a brutal killing.
Several more individuals were injured by the attacker. Police have arrested the suspect, according to Mayor Christian Estrosi, NPR reported.
“The attacker kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Great) even while under medication,” Estrosi said in a media briefing outside the church, according to Radio France Internationale.
In video footage obtained by Reuters, which appears to be shot from a balcony across the street from the church, police officers with guns and Tasers raised, can be seen in the side entrance of the church, looking inside. Gunshots can be heard as police storm the building. It was not clear from the footage what they were shooting at but it’s presumed to be the suspect.
Sky News reports that the suspect is alive and detained by police but was injured in a shooting.
The attack on the church took place around 9 a.m. local time and was prior to other attacks in France and abroad including an attack on a French embassy in Saudi Arabia.
Simultaneously, suspects launched attacks in Nice and Avignon. A man was killed wielding a knife doing a “Nazi salute” shot dead in Avignon after threatening police hours after the attack in Nice, although authorities say that case is unrelated to the attack in Nice.
Elsewhere, a security guard was stabbed by an attacker at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. There were also Fears of an attempted “copycat attack” after a man with a knife was pulled over near a church in Paris. Reportedly knifeman was caught near a church in Paris after telling his family he wanted to copy the attack in Nice, while another man was arrested while he was about to board a tram armed with a 12inch knife, in Lyon, France.
Emmanuel Macron denounced the violence as an “Islamic terror attack” and deployed 7,000 soldiers to the streets of France. Macron condemned the Nice bloodbath and defiantly said the nation would not “give up on our values”.
“Very clearly, it was France that was attacked,” French President Emmanuel Macron said outside the church in Nice, after hurrying to the site of the attack.
“If we are attacked another time, it’s because of our values,” our freedoms and the ability to believe freely without giving in to terrorism, Macron said.
“I say it with great clarity once again today: We will not give in to it,” he added, after denouncing what he called an act of Islamist terrorism.
Déclaration après l’attaque terroriste de Nice. https://t.co/9UmVPYLDf7
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) October 29, 2020
This comes amid heightened security fears in France due to an ongoing dispute over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
It’s worth noting the two attacks have also happened as Muslims celebrate the holy day Mawlid, which marks the birth of Mohammed. The killings also occurred just prior to the Catholic holy day of All Saints Day this Sunday.
Samuel Paty, 47, was beheaded by 18-year-old Abdullah Anzorov on October 17th after using Hebdo cartoons to teach his students about the importance of free speech. The image he showed to students was the same one published by Charlie Hebdo that sparked the attack on the magazine’s offices that killed 12 in 2015. NPR reports that Charlie Hebdo announced last month that it would reprint cartoons of Muhammad that are believed to have sparked the deadly attack on the magazine’s offices,
Mayor Estrosi stated the victims had been killed in a “horrible way” and added: “The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher”.
France has provoked fury over its refusal to condemn cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “I am appalled to hear the news from Nice this morning of a barbaric attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica.
“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance.”
U.S.President Donald Trum.said: “Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight.
“These Radical Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or otherwise can long put up with it.”
After the Nice attack this morning, Prime Minister Jean Castex raised France’s security alert to the maximum level.