Three dead in knife attack in French city of Nice, mayor says

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Further details are emerging about the knife attack in Nice. Here’s a summary of what we know right now.

The incident

At least three people were killed in Nice, southern France, during a knife attack at the Notre Dame Basilica, the city’s main church.

Videos posted on social media showed police and military officers responding to the incident, setting up a cordon in the city center.

The victims

One of the victims had her throat slit, a police source told CNN. The mayor of Nice had earlier described it as a decapitation.

Another victim – a man – died following multiple stabbings, according to the police source.

The third victim, a woman, was wounded inside the church, but managed to leave. However, she died in a nearby café, the police source said.

The suspect

Nice’s mayor Christian Estrosi said the attacker was shot by police, but is still alive and has been taken into custody.

Estrosi said “everything points” to the incident being a terrorist attack, and France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor has taken over the investigation.

He added that the suspect kept repeating the words “‘Allahu Akbar in front of us” while being treated by medics. “There is no doubt that the perpetrator of the attack … what his intentions were,” the mayor said.

The reaction

French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Nice later on Thursday, and Prime Minister Jean Castex has promised a “firm” response. The country’s terror alert level was raised to “emergency” following the incident.

The “emergency” level means the “maximum level of vigilance” is necessary in case of an imminent threat or immediately after an attack, according to a French government website.

International leaders haved pledged solidarity with France, with the heads of Spain, Italy, Turkey, the UK and the European Parliament among those condemning the violence. The French Council of the Muslim Faith has also condemned the incident.

The background

The incident is the latest in a number of attacks to hit France in recent years, and comes less than two weeks after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in Paris. Paty was targeted after he used caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad during a lesson.

Nice has been the target of terror in the past. In 2016 dozens died after an ISIS-inspired attacker plowed a 20-ton truck into Bastille Day crowds.

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