In a suspected terrorist attack, a man wielding a knife beheaded a woman, killed two other people and left many injured at a church in Nice, a city in the south of France, on Thursday.
The attack happened inside the Notre-Dame basilica on Jean Medecin avenue, the main shopping thoroughfare, in the heart of the city, the police said.
The attacker kept shouting “Allahu Akbar” (god is greatest) as he went about wielding the knife, Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter. He has been detained after he was injured in police firing. He is alive and was being shifted to a hospital, Estrosi said.
One of the persons killed is believed to be the warden of the church, reported Reuters.
The anti-terrorist department in France has launched an investigation into the attack, which, according to unconfirmed reports, was carried out by a 25-year-old man.
“There was shooting. A woman came out of the church saying: ‘run, run, there will be shooting, people are dead’,” media reports quoted Daniel Conilh, 32, a bar worker at a café nearby as saying.
The attack comes just weeks after a school teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by a person of Chechen origin in the suburbs of French capital Paris.
“The methods (of Thursday’s attack) match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty,” Estrosi said.
France has seen many attacks in protest against cartoons of Prophet Mohammad circulated widely. Paty’s attacker said he had killed the teacher for showing the cartoons to students during classes.
Authorities are yet to ascertain if Thursday attack was also in protest against the cartoons.
Nice mayor Estrosi called the attacks Islamo-fascism. “Enough is enough. 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,” he said, reported Reuters.