A radicalized Muslim from Tunisia shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) attacked and beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice. He was shot and taken away by French police on Thursday.
French President Emmanuel Macron said France would deploy thousands more soldiers to protect important sites such as places of worship and schools. France’s security alert was raised to its highest level.
Speaking outside the church, Macron said France had been attacked “over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief … And I say it with great clarity again today: We will not give any ground.”
Chief anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean Francois Ricard later said the suspect was a Tunisian man born in 1999 who had arrived in Europe on Sept. 20 in Lampedusa, the Italian island off Tunisia that is the main landing point for migrants from Africa. A Tunisian security source and a French police source named the suspect as Brahim Aouissaoui.
Koran found on the radicalized Muslim man
Ricard told a news conference in Nice that the man had entered the city by train early on Thursday morning and made his way to the church. There he stabbed and killed the 55-year-old sexton and beheaded a 60-year-old woman.
He also stabbed a 44-year-old woman who escaped to a nearby restaurant. She died minutes later, Ricard said, before police arrived and confronted the attacker, still shouting “Allahu Akbar”, and shot and wounded him.
“On the attacker we found a Koran and two telephones, the knife of the crime – 30cm with a cutting edge of 17cm. We also found a bag left by the attacker. Next to this bag were two knives that were not used in the attack,” Ricard said.
The suspect is in hospital in critical condition, he said.
Tunisia’s specialised counter-militancy court spokesman Mohsen Dali told Reuters that Aouissaoui was not listed by police there as a suspected militant.
He said Aouissaoui left the country on Sept. 14 by boat, adding that Tunisia had begun its own forensic investigation into the case.
Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, said the attack was similar to the beheading earlier this month near Paris of teacher Samuel Paty, who had used cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics class.
Thursday’s attacks, on the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, came at a time of growing Muslim anger at France’s defence of the right to publish the cartoons, and protesters have denounced France in street rallies in several Muslim-majority countries.
France and Germany lockdown citizens
France and Germany announced sweeping new lockdown measures, as a massive second covid-19 wave of infections threaten to overwhelm Europe before the winter. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered their countries back into covid-19 lockdown on Wednesday. A second wave of covid-19 infections threaten to overwhelm Europe before winter.
World stock markets went into a dive in response to the news that Europe’s biggest economies were imposing nationwide restrictions almost as severe as the ones that drove the global economy this year into its deepest recession in generations. – Reuters