Woman decapitated as knife-wielding man kills three in French church

A woman was decapitated and two other people were killed by a knife-wielding “terrorist” who shouted “Allahu akbar!” at a church in the French city of Nice — one of three attacks targeting the country on Thursday.

Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter the attack occurred in or near the Notre Dame Basilica and that police had detained the assailant.

Estrosi called the attacker  a “terrorist” who shouted “Allahu akbar!” — Arabic for “God is great” — repeatedly as police collared him and that “the meaning of his gesture left no doubt.”

“The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained, he is on his way to hospital, he is alive,” he told reporters.

The assailant was believed to be acting alone and police are not searching for other suspects, a police official said.

The horrific incident coincided with two other attacks targeting France.

A Saudi man was arrested in Jeddah after attacking a guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate, state media reported. The Saudi Press Agency offered no motive for the attack.

“The assailant was apprehended by Saudi security forces immediately after the attack. The guard was taken to hospital and his life is not in danger,” the embassy said in a statement.

And in southern France, police shot and killed a man in Montfavet, near the city of Avignon, after he had earlier threatened passers-by with a handgun, police said. According to radio station Europe 1, he shouted “Allahu akbar!”

French forensics officers arrive at the site of a knife attack in Nice
French forensics officers arrive at the site of a knife attack in NiceAP

“Enough is enough,” Estrosi added, according to Agence France-Presse. “It’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islamo-fascism from our territory.”

Two people were killed inside the church and a wounded woman who fled to a nearby later died of her injuries, a police source told AFP.

“Everything points to a terrorist attack,” Estrosi said on Twitter.

He said the victims — including the church warden — had been killed in a “horrible way.”

“The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty,” he said, referring to a teacher beheaded in a recent attack in Paris by a Chechen man,  Abdullakh Anzorov, 18, as punishment for showing students cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he was chairing a crisis meeting in response to Thursday’s attack, according to CNN.

The anti-terrorism prosecutor’s offce said it has launched an investigation into the attack.

France has been on high alert for terror attacks since the Jan. 15 massacre at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The trial of suspected accomplices in that attack is underway in Paris.

It was not immediately clear what the motive was behind the Nice attack, or if there was any connection to the cartoons, which Muslims deem to be blasphemous.

Thursday’s attack prompted lawmakers in parliament to hold a minute of silence, before Prime Minister Jean Castex and other ministers left for an emergency meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, who is expected to head to the city.

A wave of jihadist attacks, often by so-called “lone wolf” assailants, has killed more than 250 people on France since 2015.

In Nice. in particular, painful memories remain of a jihadist attack during the Bastille Day events from July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.

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