A 47-year-old man has been detained for questioning in connection with the knife attack in Nice’s Notre-Dame basilica in which three people were killed
Macron vowed France would stand firm against religious extremists and has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect churches and schools
A 47-year-old man believed to have been in contact with the suspected
in the French city of Nice has been detained for questioning, a judicial source said on Friday.
The man was detained late Thursday after the attack in Nice’s Notre-Dame basilica by a 21-year-old Tunisian who arrived in France on October 9.
France’s anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said the attacker, identified as Brahim Aouissaoui, had a copy of the Koran, two phones and three knives when he entered the church in the centre of the Mediterranean city at around 8.30am.
He slit the throats of a 60-year-old woman and a 55-year-old man who worked at the church, and stabbed a 44-year-old woman who managed to flee but later died of her wounds.
The victims were “people targeted for the sole reason that they were present in this church at that moment,” Ricard said at a press conference late Thursday.
called it an “Islamist terrorist attack” and vowed France would stand firm against religious extremists.
will not “give up on our values,” Macron said in Nice.
The church killings come after the October 16
by an extremist after Paty showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a free speech lesson.
Macron defended the cartoons and the right to mock religion, sparking
and several campaigns in Muslim-majority countries to boycott French products.
Daniel Conilh, a 32-year-old waiter at Nice’s Grand Cafe de Lyon, a block from the church, said it was soon before 9am when “shots were fired and everybody took off running”.
“A woman came in straight from the church and said, ‘Run, run, someone has been stabbing people’,” he said.
The police who shot Aouissaoui had “without any doubt prevented an even higher toll,” Ricard said, adding investigators had found two unused knives in a bag at the scene.
The killings, which occurred ahead of the Catholic holy day of All Saints Day on Sunday, prompted the government to raise the terror alert level to the maximum “emergency” level nationwide.
France has been on high alert since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly magazine
marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 250 people.
Tensions have heightened since last month, when the trial opened for 14 suspected accomplices in that attack.
The paper marked the start of the court proceedings by
that infuriated millions of Muslims worldwide – the same caricatures that teacher Paty used as lesson material.
Days after the trial opened, an 18-year-old man from Pakistan
outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in Paris.
In Nice, Macron announced increased surveillance of churches by France’s Sentinelle military patrols, to be bolstered to 7,000 troops from 3,000.
Security at schools would also be boosted, he said.
But some claim Macron is unfairly targeting France’s estimated five to six million Muslims – the largest community in Europe.
Macron on Thursday urged people of all religions to unite and not “give in to the spirit of division”.
After Thursday’s attack, Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad tweeted that
people for the massacres of the past”.
Twitter later deleted his post.
Tens of thousands of Muslims protested in Bangladesh on Friday, chanting slogans such as “Boycott French products” and carrying banners calling Macron “the world’s biggest terrorist” as they marched in the streets of the capital Dhaka.
Thursday also saw a Saudi citizen wound a guard in a knife attack at the French consulate in Jeddah while police in the French city of Lyon said they had arrested an Afghan spotted carrying a knife while trying to board a tram.
In Nice, painful memories remain fresh of a
on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.
Abdallah Zekri, director general of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM) denounced Thursday’s attack and urged French Muslims to cancel festivities to mark the Mawlid, or the Prophet’s birthday, which ends on Thursday, “in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones”.