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Stabbing attack in French city of Nice kills three people, wounds several

·2-min read

A knife-wielding attacker shouting "Allahu Akbar" beheaded a woman and killed two other people at a church in the southern French city of Nice on Thursday, according to police officials. The city's mayor described the incident as an act of terrorism.

Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter the knife attack had happened at the city's Notre Dame church and that police had detained the attacker.

The attacker had shouted, "Allahu Akbar", or God is greatest even after he had been detained, Estrosi said.

A police source said three people were confirmed to have died, including a woman who was decapitated in the attack. One of the people killed inside the church was believed to be the church warden, Estrosi said.

The French interior ministry said on Twitter that security and rescue forces were at the site and urged residents to avoid the area.

The assailant was arrested after the attack and taken to a nearby hospital after sustaining injuries, a police offical said. He was believed to be acting alone, the official said.

French prosecutors have launched an investigation into the incident and President Emmanuel Macron was heading to Nice, officials said.

France’s lower house of parliament suspended a debate on a new nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and held a moment of silence for the victims.

France reels from teacher's beheading

The attack comes while France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty by a man of Chechen origin, who said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.

Since Paty's killing, French officials – backed by many ordinary citizens – have re-asserted the right to display the cartoons, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the killed teacher.

That has prompted an outpouring of anger in parts of the Muslim world, including calls to boycott French products, with some governments accusing Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)