The attack came just hours before France reverted to a month-long lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has exploded dangerously in Europe in recent weeks with a spike in cases and hospitalizations .
“I can only, once again in the very difficult circumstances that our country is going through, in the challenges it is undergoing, call on the entire national representation to unity and cohesion”, told parliamentarians Jean Castex, the Prime Minister.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in a message on Twitter that he immediately called a crisis meeting. Mr Macron, who joined the meeting, is expected in Nice on Thursday later.
Authorities did not identify the victims, but Mr. Estrosi said one of them was the sacristan of the church. The Episcopal Conference of France said in a statement that the victims were a “symbol” that had been targeted simply because they were in the basilica.
“Despite the pain that grips them, Catholics refuse to give in to fear and, with the whole nation, want to face this treacherous and blind threat,” the statement said.
It was not the first time that a church had come under attack. In 2016 Reverend Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old priest, was celebrating mass in Normandy when two men armed with knives entered his small church and slit his throat. And a man is currently on trial in France for a failed plot to attack a church in Villejuif, a Parisian church, which left a woman dead.