France’s counterterrorism prosecution has opened an investigation into the murders, which were the third attack since the opening in September of a terrorism trial in the January 2015 killings at the satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper and in a kosher supermarket.
“He cried ‘Allah Akbar!’ over and over again, even after being injured, ”said Nice mayor Christian Estrosi, who told BFM television that three people were dead, two inside the church and a third who had fled but had been fatally injured. “The meaning of his gesture leaves no room for doubt. ”
In Nice, images broadcast by the French media show the area locked and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles. Sounds of explosions could be heard when sappers detonated suspicious objects.
The lower house of parliament suspended a debate on France’s new virus restrictions and held a minute’s silence for the victims on Thursday. The Prime Minister rushed from the room to a crisis center to monitor the aftermath of the Nice attack. French President Emmanuel Macron was traveling to Nice later in the day.
Less than two weeks ago, an assailant beheaded a French teacher who was showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad for a course on freedom of expression. These cartoons were published by Charlie Hebdo and quoted by the men who shot down the newspaper’s editorial meeting in 2015.
In September, a man who had applied for asylum in France attacked passers-by in front of the former Charlie Hebdo offices with a butcher’s knife.