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Three dead after ‘Islamist terror attack’ in Nice

Security forces guard the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France, October 29, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Three dead after ‘Islamist terror attack’ in Nice

An attacker with a knife killed three people, including a woman who was decapitated, at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday (October 29), police said, in an incident the city's mayor described as terrorism.

Three dead after ‘Islamist terror attack’ in Nice

Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter the knife attack had happened at the city’s Notre Dame church and that police had detained the attacker. The attacker was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar”.

Police said three people were confirmed to have died in the attack and several were injured.

A police source said a woman was decapitated. French politician Marine Le Pen also spoke of a decapitation having occurred in the attack.

Two of the victims died inside the church – the woman, in her 70s, and a man in his 40s or 50s.

Another woman in her 30s or 40s who was stabbed several times escaped to a nearby cafe but died later.

The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty in Paris by a man of Chechen origin.

Estrosi told BFM TV the elder woman who died was “quite clearly” attacked “with the same modus operandi as Samuel Paty”.

Reuters journalists at the scene said police armed with automatic weapons had put up a security cordon around the church, which is on Nice’s Jean Medecin avenue, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare.

President Macron had vowed to increase soldiers in public areas from 3,000 to 7,000 following the attack, and France has been placed on its highest terrorism threat level.

Macron, who described the incident as an “Islamist terrorist attack”, said such attacks would not cause France to surrender its core values.

“If we are attacked once again it is for the values which are ours: freedom, for the possibility on our soil to believe freely and not to give in to any spirit of terror,” the president said.

“I say it with great clarity once again today: we won’t surrender anything.”

The attack comes amid a crackdown amid Muslim extremists in France by authorities in the wake of the killing of Paty.

Paty was killed by a young Muslim man who was offended that the teacher had shown cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on free speech.

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