Three dead in terror attack at church in French city of Nice

29 October 2020, 08:53 | Updated: 29 October 2020, 12:57

By Asher McShane

Three people have died and several others have been injured in a suspected terrorist knife attack in the French city of Nice.

The attack, at the city's Notre Dame church, took place around 9am on Thursday.

French media said two women and a man were killed. One of the victims, a woman, is believed to have been beheaded.

The church caretaker was among those injured.

Read more: Man shot dead in Avignon, France after threatening police 'with handgun'

French newspaper Le Monde reported the first woman was slaughtered inside the basilica. A man was also fatally stabbed inside. The third victim was killed in a bar in front of the basilica, where she had taken refuge.

The attacker was shot and wounded by police before being rushed to hospital.

He was believed to be acting alone and police are not searching for other assailants, an official said.

Armed police at the scene in Nice
Armed police at the scene in Nice. Picture: Getty

Nice's Mayor Christian Estrosi said the attacker shouted "Allahu akbar!" repeatedly as police apprehended him and that "the meaning of his gesture left no doubt".

Speaking to reporters, Mr Estrosi said two people were killed inside the church and a third person who escaped to a nearby bar was in a life-threatening condition.

Mr Estrosi said in a tweet said the church caretaker was among those attacked at the Basilica Notre Dame.

He appealed to the citizens of Nice to remain united.

The National Anti-terrorism Prosecutor's Office has opened an investigation into assassination and attempted assassination, according to Le Monde.

According to Le Monde, French president Emmanuel Macron is holding a crisis meeting at the Ministry of Interior with Prime Minister Jean Castex and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. Mr Macron is due to travel to Nice later today.

"I ask the people of Nice to avoid the area to let the police and the emergency services work."

Another city official posted online: "Very serious events are currently taking place near the Notre Dame church in Nice. Support for security forces. Avoid the area!"

A woman was reportedly beheaded in the attack
A woman was reportedly beheaded in the attack. Picture: Getty

Mr Castex was speaking about the new coronavirus restrictions in the National Assembly when he was told the news by Assembly President Richard Ferrand.

The Prime Minister shared the news before parliamentarians rose to their feet and took part in a moments silence.

He said: “We have just learned that an extremely serious attack has taken place in Nice.

"I ask you in these tragic circumstances to observe a minute of silence in solidarity with the victims and in relation to those close to them."

He added: “It is undoubtedly a new very serious ordeal which strikes our country."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted online: "I am appalled to hear the news from Nice this morning of a barbaric attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance."