Three dead as woman beheaded in France, gunman killed in second incident

French security officlals at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice after a deadly knife attack in Nice on October 29, 2020. AFP - VALERY HACHE
French security officlals at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice after a deadly knife attack in Nice on October 29, 2020. AFP – VALERY HACHE

A knife-wielding attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar” beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a suspected terrorist act at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, while a gunman was shot dead by police in a separate incident.

Within hours of the Nice attack, police killed a man who had threatened passersby with a handgun in Montfavet, near the southern French city of Avignon. He was also shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), according to radio station Europe 1.

In Saudi Arabia on Thursday, state television reported that a Saudi man had been arrested in the city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate.

The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by a knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger.

Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, who described the attack in his city as terrorism, said on Twitter it had happened in or near Notre Dame church and was similar to the beheading of French teacher Samuel Paty in an attack this month in Paris. Estrosi said the attacker had repeatedly shouted the phrase “Allahu Akbar”, even after he had been detained by police.

One of the people killed inside the church was believed to be the churchwarden, Estrosi said, adding that a woman had tried to escape from inside the church and had fled into a bar opposite the 19th-century neo-Gothic building. The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained, he is on his way to hospital, he is alive,” Estrosi told reporters.

“Enough is enough,” Estrosi said. “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.”

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. Ambulances and fire service vehicles were also at the scene.