Pictured: Church employee who died in Nice attack

29 October 2020, 18:42 | Updated: 30 October 2020, 08:15

Vincent Loquè was named as one of the victims of Thursday's attack
Vincent Loquè was named as one of the victims of Thursday's attack. Picture: ECioti

By Kate Buck

A church worker has been named as one of the victims of a knife attack in Nice, France.

Vincent Loquè, 55, died in the tragedy, in which a 21-year-old suspect walked to Notre Dame church and pulled a 30cm knife of innocent people.

The father-of-two was described as being "extremely devoted" to his church by Local politician Eric Ciotti who tweeted a picture of Mr Loquè.

La Parisien newspaper reported parish members said he had been the church warden for the past decade and was "expansive and sympathetic".

Two other people died in the knifing, a 60-year-old woman who suffered a "very deep throat slitting, like a decapitation", prosecutors said.

She died at the scene with Mr Loquè, and a 44-year-old woman died in a local cafe after managing to escape from the church.

The attacker has been named as 21-year-old Brahim Aouissaoui, a Tunisian migrant, who arrived on the island of Lampedusa, Italy, in late September.

He had to quarantine on arrival, before being given an order to leave Italy.

The Nice attacker has been named as a 21-year-old Tunisian man
The Nice attacker has been named as a 21-year-old Tunisian man. Picture: PA

Sources told the AFP news agency he arrived in France at the beginning of this month.

France's chief anti-terrorist prosecutor, Jean-Francois Ricard, said Aouissaoui had arrived into the city by train and changed clothes before walking the 400m to the church and unleashing his attack.

Aouissaoui was shot 14 times and detained during the course of the attack, and is now being treated in hospital.

As he lay wounded, Nice's mayor said the attacker repeated "Allah Akbar!" over and over.

An anti-terror investigation has been opened into the incident and France has now raised its national security level to the highest possible category.

The killings come at a time of extreme tension over the republication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced that he will more than double the number of soldiers deployed to protect against terror attacks in the wake of the attacks.

Read more: Three dead in terror attack at church in French city of Nice

Prime Minister Jean Castex told French lawmakers that the country would raise its alert level to "emergency" in response to the attack. Mr Macron later travelled to Nice to meet police officers in the city.

The suspect was believed to be acting alone and police are not searching for other attackers.

Images on French media showed the neighbourhood locked down and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles. The killings took place less than half a mile from the site in 2016 where another attacker drive a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens.

Shots punctuated the air and witnesses screamed as police stationed at the grandiose doors to the church appeared to fire at the attacker inside, according to videos obtained by The Associated Press.

A woman was beheaded in the attack
A woman was beheaded in the attack. Picture: PA

Sounds of explosions could be heard as sappers exploded suspicious objects.

Later in the morning in the southern city of Avignon an armed man was shot dead by police after he refused to drop his weapon and a Taser shot failed to stop him, a police official said.

There have been increased tensions in France over caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed published by satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and after two other recent attacks in the country with links to the cartoons.

Less than two weeks ago, an attacker decapitated a French middle school teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed for a class on free speech. Those caricatures were published by Charlie Hebdo and cited by the men who gunned down the newspaper's editorial meeting in 2015.

In September, a man who had sought asylum in France attacked bystanders outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices with a butcher knife.

The lower house of parliament suspended a debate on new virus restrictions and held a moment of silence on Thursday for the victims.