At Least 3 Killed in Knife Attack at Church in Nice, France

At Least 3 Killed in Knife Attack at Church in Nice, France

On Thursday morning, at least three victims were killed in a knife attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice, France, shortly before the 9 a.m. mass was scheduled to begin.

Two victims — an elderly parishioner who came early to pray, and the church warden — were allegedly stabbed to death inside the church. A third victim escaped to a neighborhood bar, where she succumbed to her wounds, according to officials.

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, described one victim as having been "decapitated" in the attack.

Arriving police officers stormed the cathedral, shooting the suspect. The alleged attacker, who survived, was arrested and transported to a local hospital,  the Associated Press reports.

French President Emmanuel Macron has since arrived in Nice and is now meeting with officers at the church, according to the BBC.

The anti-terrorist magistrate has announced the opening of an investigation to continue looking into the nature of the attack.

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The stabbings came two weeks after a French middle school teacher, Samuel Paty, was killed in a beheading outside Paris.

Paty was tracked and killed outside the school by an alleged terrorist. The attacker reportedly said he wanted to punish Paty for showing students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in one of his classes.

Paty reportedly showed the cartoons to students after the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo reprinted the drawings, which previously sparked a separate terrorist attack inside the controversial magazine's Paris offices in 2015.

Nice's Mayor Christian Estrosi, who rushed to the cathedral after Thursday's knife attacks, tweeted that it should be considered a terrorist incident. During a hastily called press conference, he described the event and its "horror."

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In response to the attack, Nice's bishop, Monsignor André Marceau, ordered all churches closed until they could be placed under police protection, saying, "Three people were the victims of an abominable terrorist act in the walls of Notre-Dame basilica and its surroundings, a few days after the savage murder of Professor Samuel Paty.

"There can only be a strong stir after this new tragedy which is plaguing our diocese. My sadness is infinite as a human being in front of what others, called humans, can commit."

France's fifth largest city, Nice was the site of a former terrorist incident in July 2016, when a man drove a truck through a large crowd, killing more than 80 people attending Bastille Day ceremonies along the city's celebrated Promenade des Anglais.

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