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Macron vows to deploy soldiers across France after attacks in Nice and Avignon

Zoe Tidman and Lizzie Dearden
·3-min read
<p>Nice attack</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Nice attack

(AFP via Getty Images)

Emmanuel Macron has vowed to step up military presence across France following a deadly attack at a church in Nice.

The country was rocked by a string of attacks on Thursday, with a woman beheaded and two others killed in Nice and a far-right gunman shot in Avignon.

A guard was also injured at their consulate in Saudi Arabia.

Three people were killed in an attack on a church in Nice, all of whom had their throats cut, a police spokesperson told The Independent, adding another person was left injured. One female victim was beheaded, according to a police source.

Mr Macron declared that France had been subject to an Islamist terrorist attack and said he would deploy thousands more soldiers to protect French sites, such as places of worship and schools.

After the Nice attack, the prime minister raised France's security alert to its highest level.

Around 250km away in Avignon, a gunman was shot dead after brandishing a weapon at passers-by.

A police spokesperson told The Independent he had claimed he belonged to far-right group Mouvance Identitaire.

He was killed after he refused to drop his weapon and a flash-ball shot failed to stop him, the official said.

On the same day, a man was arrested after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia.

Anti-terrorism investigators are looking into the attack inside the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice, which claimed the life of the churchwarden, according to Nice’s mayor.

One of the victims managed to make it out of the church into a nearby café despite her injuries, but died from her wounds, Nice mayor Christian Estrosi told reporters at the scene.

The suspect kept shouting "Allahu Akbar" even after he had been arrested by police, the city’s mayor told reporters, adding the attacker continued to shout this while receiving medical treatment at the scene.

One witness told The Independent they were on their way to their barbers when they heard people shouting.

"I saw police closing the area off," the 18-year-old said. "Then shortly after, gunshots could be heard ringing throughout the church."

EPA
EPA

They told The Independent they started "running out of fear".

Nice’s mayor said the suspected attacker was shot by police while being detained and was taken to hospital.

A police source told Reuters the assailant was believed by law enforcement to be a 21-year-old Tunisian national who had recently entered France from neighbouring Italy.

"The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty," Christian Estrosi said, referring to a French teacher beheaded earlier this month in an attack in a suburb of Paris after showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

“France has once again become the victim of Islamic terrorism… There is no doubt as to his intentions behind his actions.”

Speaking from the scene, Mr Macron said France had been attacked "over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief".

"And I say it with lots of clarity again today: we will not give any ground."

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