As the government raised the terrorist alert level to the maximum “emergency” level across the country and soldiers were deployed to guard schools and churches in France, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was dismayed to learn “the barbaric attack”.“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and the UK stands firmly alongside France against terror and intolerance.”
Pope Francis said he mourned the attack “which sowed death in a place of prayer and consolation.”
“I pray for the victims, for their families and for the beloved French people, so that they respond to evil with good.”
The american president Donald Trump a dit: “America stands alongside our oldest ally in this fight.” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also spoke in favor of France.
Condemnation also came from leaders in the Middle East, Arab and Islamic, who drew a clear distinction between their religion and the acts of violence that claimed to defend it. Turkey, which is embroiled with France for the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that sparked a wave of attacks against the French, was among the first to respond to the attack.
“We strongly condemn the attack committed today inside the Notre-Dame church in Nice,” said a statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said it “stands as a government and a people with… France in the fight against this heinous incident”. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that “peace cannot be achieved by horrific provocation”.
Thursday’s suspected attacker, a 21-year-old Tunisian named Brahim Aouissaoui, who entered Europe through Italy and traveled to Paris in early October, was shot dead by police and arrested inside the church.
Aouissaoui would have entered the basilica just before 8:30 am Thursday with three knives and a copy of the Koran in a bag. The attack lasted 28 minutes and left two dead and a third fatally injured.
The oldest victim was a 60-year-old woman who had been in the basilica praying for a short time after it opened that morning.
France’s counterterrorism prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard, said she had her throat slit “to the point of being almost beheaded”.
Vincent Loqués, 55, also had his throat slit. His body was found inside the church.
Loqués was a devout Catholic and had been sacristan at the basilica where he prepared the sacraments and the altar for Mass for 10 years. Its role was also to welcome visitors and faithful to the basilica when it opened each morning.
The third victim was Simone Barreto Silva, 44, a mother of three, named Simone Barreto Silva, stabbed repeatedly inside the basilica.
Severely injured, she managed to escape the church before collapsing in a nearby bar. She told those who cared for her, “Tell my children that I love them” before she died at the scene.
Police described the scene as a “sight of horror”.
The officers who were the first on the scene shot the killer several times after he allegedly refused to drop the knife, injuring his shoulder. At 9:10 am, the attacker had been “neutralized”. French officials praised police swift action to prevent further bloodshed.
The National Counterterrorism Prosecutor has opened an investigation into the “terrorist organization murders”.
Aouissaoui is said to have entered France from Italy. Investigators determined that he was registered in Lampedusa, Italy on September 20, and that he was in the Italian Adriatic port of Bari on October 9.
He did not carry any identity document apart from an Italian Red Cross document.
Ricard said the man was picked up by CCTV cameras at Nice train station at 6:47 a.m. “He changed his jacket and his shoes. He then walked 400m to Notre-Dame Basilica. He entered at 8:29 am, ”the prosecutor said.
After worshipers fleeing the church sounded the alarm, four city policemen entered the church at 8:57 a.m.
The attacker advanced towards the officers in “a threatening manner, shouting Allahu Akbar, forcing them first to use an electric pulse pistol, then to fire their service weapon several times,” the prosecutor said. Fourteen bullet casings were found on the ground.
Thursday’s attack came 13 days after an 18-year-old man beheaded Samuel Paty, 47, a history teacher, outside his high school north-east of Paris. The professor had shown cartoons to students, including one of the Prophet Muhammad published in the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo, during a discussion on freedom of expression.
Macron vowed after Paty’s murder to crack down on Islamist extremism, including shutting down mosques and other organizations accused of fomenting radicalism and violence.
His comments have sparked anger in the Muslim world and call for a boycott of French products.
Having flown to Nice in the wake of the attacks and visiting the basilica, Macron was grim but defiant in his response on Thursday.
“It is France which is under attack”, declared the president. “Three of our compatriots died today at the Basilica in Nice and at the same time a French consular site was attacked in Saudi Arabia.
“I want to express, above all, the nation’s support for Catholics in France and elsewhere… We are at their side so that religion can be exercised freely in our country. People can believe or not believe, all religions can be practiced, but today the nation stands alongside our fellow Catholics.
“My second message is addressed… to the people of Nice who have already suffered from Islamist terrorist madness. This is the third time that terrorism has struck your city and you have the support and solidarity of the nation.
“If we have been attacked again, it is because of our values, our taste for freedom; the freedom to believe freely and not to give in to any terror. We will not give in to anything. Today, we have strengthened our security to face the terrorist threat. ”
Macron said the French army was mobilized to protect all places of worship, especially Catholic churches, for the religious holiday of All Saints Sunday. The number of soldiers on the streets is to be increased from 3,000 to 7,000 and troops will be deployed outside the schools for the return to class on Monday.
France’s security alert has been raised to its highest level, warning of an imminent attack, or just after an attack. The high alert allows the authorities to increase checks, deploy more police and conduct more systematic searches at stations and airports.