More details revealed about Nice attacker as one victim named

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French authorities have revealed that the Nice attacker who killed three people is Tunisian and was unknown to security services.

France’s chief anti-terrorist prosecutor, Jean-Francois Ricard, said the young man, born in 1999, arrived in the city by train and changed his clothes at the station, before walking 400 metres to the Notre Dame church.

He entered France from Italy – travelling through the southern Italian city of Bari on 9 October – after reaching the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa on 20 September.

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Shots fired as police storm church

He was carrying an Italian Red Cross identity document and two phones, while a bag containing two unused knives was found.

The blade used in the attack was 30cm long, with a cutting edge of 17cm.

Following the attack at the church he moved towards police in a “threatening way”, shouting Allahu Akbar [God is greatest] before being shot and seriously wounded by officers, who fired at least 14 bullets at him.

He is being treated in hospital, Mr Ricard said.

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One of the three people stabbed to death has been named as church worker Vincent Loques.

Local politician Eric Ciotti tweeted a picture of Mr Loques dressed in a t-shirt, looking relaxed and smiling.

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Macron: France is ‘under attack’

He said Mr Loques was a “devoted employee” of the Notre Dame church.

Mr Ricard described the scene of the attack. He said a 60-year-old woman suffered a “very deep throat slitting, like a decapitation”.

She and Mr Loques died at the scene, while a 44-year-old woman made it out of the church and died at a local cafe.

Mr Loques was 55 and a father of two, Le Parisien newspaper reported.

Members of the parish said he had been church warden for ten years and was “expansive and sympathetic”.

A relative of the sacristan victim of a knife attack cries in front of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice in Nice on October 29, 2020. - France's national anti-terror prosecutors said Thursday they have opened a murder inquiry after a man killed three people at a basilica in central Nice and wounded several others. The city's mayor, Christian Estrosi, told journalists at the scene that the assailant, detained shortly afterwards by police, "kept repeating 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greater) even whil
Image: A relative of one of the victims looks on

President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Nice on Thursday afternoon, said his country had been “attacked” and expressed the “support of France towards the Catholic community”.

He added that the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites would be increased from about 3,000 at the moment to 7,000.

Reuters journalists at the scene said police armed with automatic weapons put up a security cordon around the church, which is on Nice’s Jean Medecin avenue, the city’s main shopping thoroughfare.

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

Prime Minister Jean Castex has told residents of Nice only to leave home for food shopping, commuting to work, medical reasons or pressing family matters.

Candles have been lit outside the church
Image: Candles have been lit outside the church

A representative of the French Council for the Muslim Faith condemned the attack, saying: “As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday of Mawlid [Prophet Muhammad’s birthday].”

In a separate incident shortly after, French police confirmed a man was shot dead near Avignon, after threatening passers-by with a handgun in the district of Montfavet.

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a man was arrested after stabbing and wounding a guard at the French consulate, state media reported.

It comes as the country remains under high alert for terrorist attacks following the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty in Paris.

The attacker had said he wanted to punish Mr Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.

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Nice’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, said the victims had been killed in a “horrible way”.

“The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty.”

He added: “Attack in Nice, attack in Avignon, attack on the French consulate in Saudi Arabia. It is not a coincidence.”

Since Mr Paty’s killing, French officials – backed by many ordinary citizens – have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the killed teacher.

That has prompted an outpouring of anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing President Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

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