FRANCE – On Thursday, a man wielding a knife attacked multiple people at the Notre Dame Basilica, killing three – two inside the church, and one outside – before being shot and arrested by authorities, according to reports. Of the three victims killed, one was an elderly person who was “virtually beheaded,” police say, with the other two being a man and a woman; all reportedly worked for the church in some capacity.
The incident took place at 9 a.m. this morning, when the suspect – identified by news sources as a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant but not yet officially identified by police – allegedly began using a knife to attack people while shouting Islamic rhetoric, according to Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi at a press conference held in front of the church.
Estrosi, who stated that France’s law were not enough to deal with what he referred to as “Islamo-fascism,” called the incident “an attack on the Christian world.”
“The attacker kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Great) even while under medication,” he said. “I send all my support and all my compassion to the families of the victims of this barbarian.”
French President Emmanuel Macron responded to the attacks after arriving at the scene, stating that France has been the ongoing victim of terror attacks due to values that his country holds dear.
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“Very clearly, it was France that was attacked,” he said. “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. I say it with great clarity once again today: We will not give in to it.”
Another attack in France took place 13 days ago, when a middle school teacher was brutally decapitated after showing students caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad; the 18 year-old attacker was later shot and killed by police. Depictions of Muhammad, while not forbidden by the Quran, are nonetheless offensive to many Muslims, sometimes leading to acts of violence.
France has raised its national security alert to its highest level, with the church attack being investigated by anti-terror prosecutors.