France under siege after beheading in church
France was hit by two suspected terror attacks which have left three dead, including a woman who was beheaded by a knifeman allegedly shouting "Allahu Akbar".
Two separate assailants are understood to have launched attacks in Nice and Avignon in the south of the country just hours apart.
The woman, who was one of three killed, passed away shortly after 9 am local time.
Her last words, according to a member of the French Senate, were: “Tell my children that I love them.”
Police have identified the suspect in Nice as Brahim Aouissaoui, who is believed to have arrived in Europe only recently after being born in Tunisia.
Almost at the same time, a security guard at the French Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was stabbed and left with minor injuries.
In Avignon, 250kms away from Nice, a man shouted "Allahu Akbar" while brandishing a knife, but was shot dead. No one else has been reported injured.
It's currently unclear if the attacks are related, but local politicians are drawing links, with French Republican Eric Ciotti tweeting "Attack in Nice, attack in Avignon, attack on the French consulate in Saudi Arabia. It is not a coincidence, the Islamists want to annihilate us! We must destroy the Islamists!".
French President Emmanuel Macron has visited the site of the attack as France raised its attack level to “urgent” and Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government’s response will be “relentless and immediate”.
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said: “The attacker kept shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ even after he had been shot and as he was given medical care.
“Enough is enough. The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained, he is on his way to hospital, he is alive.
“I must say that Nice, like France, but perhaps more than other places in the country today, is paying too heavy a price by being once again the victim of islamofascism.”
There have been heightened security fears in France over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by Charlie Hedbo, with a teacher in France being beheaded after he showed his pupils the cartoons as part of a class on free speech.
In response to the beheading, French president Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech in defence of free speech and the offending cartoons were projected onto government buildings in France.
Join our community of over 40,000-plus members today and get the latest Over60 news, offers and articles.
Get all the latest Over60 news, offers and articles.