A knife attack in the southern French coastal city of Nice left three dead – two women and the church overseer – and at least six injured. According to police circles, a 70-year-old woman in the church had her throat slit and the perpetrator tried to decapitate her. The act took place around 9 am.
As far as information was available, the woman and the church overseer were murdered early Thursday afternoon in the Notre-Dame church in the city center. The second woman died in a fast-food restaurant near the church after escaping seriously injured, according to information in the newspaper “Le Monde”.
For the Mayor of Nice, the act resembles a terrorist attack. Photo: REUTERS / Eric Gaillard
The anti-terrorist public prosecutor’s office is responsible for the investigation.
What is known about the state of affairs and the perpetrator from Thursday afternoon:
According to information from the local newspaper “Nice-matin”, the perpetrator is said to be a 21-year-old with Tunisian citizenship. He was not known to the police. He probably used a kitchen knife to kill his victims. The hit man shouted “Allahu Akbar” several times as he left the church. The culprit acted alone. Security circles called the Tagesspiegel the name Brahim A. The French media also mention the name. The perpetrator was shot twice by the police and taken to hospital seriously injured. Three officers near the church identified the culprit. You are in psychological care.
There is also a high risk of copying in Germany
Emmanuel Macron arrived at the church in Nice in the early afternoon. He spoke of “all of France is under attack”. The country had declared the highest level of terror warning at noon. 4,000 more soldiers than before must ensure safety in the country and guard churches, among other things. 3000 have been in use so far.
On Thursday there were also incidents in Lyon and Avignon. In Avignon, the police shot the man holding a gun or knife and threatening passers-by. In Lyon, an Afghan in traditional clothing was arrested with a knife. Security circles classify the incident as “serious” according to “Nice-matin”. From Thursday afternoon it is unclear whether the incidents have a terrorist background.
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On Thursday, an employee of the French embassy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was also attacked with a knife. He has been taken to hospital, but his life is not in danger.
German security circles say the “modus operandi” of the attack “clearly speaks in favor of an Islamist act of terrorism”. There is probably a connection with the very emotional debate about the Mohammed cartoons in France.
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s violent attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron for his stance on the cartoons continued to heat fanatic Muslims, he said. Turkey strongly condemned the act in Nice.
Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) said she was “deeply shocked by the brutal murders in a church” in Nice. “My thoughts are with the relatives of the murdered and injured,” Merkel said, according to her spokesman Steffen Seibert in Berlin on Thursday. “The French nation showed solidarity with Germany during these difficult hours,” added the Chancellor.
Act of resonance after the assassination attempt on teacher Samuel Paty
The attack in Nice is apparently a “reaction” after the attack on the teacher Samuel Paty. On October 16, Russian-Chechen Islamist Abdullah Anzorov beheaded Paty in the Parisian suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine because the teacher had discussed the Mohammed cartoons in class on the subject of freedom of speech.
Anzorov, who was shot by police, is being celebrated as a martyr on the internet, according to security circles. In English, Arabic, Urdu and other languages, people are encouraged to imitate the attack.
The danger of a similar attack in Germany as on Paty and now in Nice is great. “Even when it was quiet for a while in Germany, the threat of Islamist terrorism was always high,” an expert told Tagesspiegel. This was just shown by the attack in Dresden. There, Syrian Abdullah Al HH stabbed a tourist on October 4 and seriously injured another.
“Nice” was already a model for the Berlin attacker Anis Amri
The high risk of imitation for Germany is justified by security circles with the number “Nice”. The attack, carried out by an Islamist with a truck in Nice in July 2016, was repeated in Berlin five months later.
In December, Tunisian Anis Amri drove a hijacked truck to the Christmas market on Breitscheidplatz, where 12 people were killed and more than 70 injured.
In July, the Tunisian Lahouaiej Bouhlel drove a truck along the beach promenade in Nice. The IS terrorist militia sympathizer has killed 86 people and injured more than 400.
Even now, after the knife attack, “Nice” could encourage radicalized Muslims in Germany to carry out a similar attack, it is said.
“The potential on the Muslim side is unbroken,” says an expert. The combination of the “Nice” model, the anger at the Mohammed caricatures and the simple modus operandi of a knife attack is very dangerous.
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution considers 2,000 Islamists to be potential terrorists
In Germany, police currently classify 619 Islamists as threats and thus as potential terrorists, according to security circles. Another 500 Islamists are considered “relevant people”, that is, potential supporters of violent criminals.
The full personal potential of Islamist terrorists is even greater, he said. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution from 2000 people. The intelligence agency is reaching a higher number than the police because it has its sights set not only on criminals but also dangerous people on an extremist spectrum as a whole.
The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, meanwhile, called for unity. “We have a duty to stand up together against violence and those who want to incite and spread hatred,” the Italian wrote on Twitter on Thursday. He was shocked and saddened by the news from Nice. “This pain is felt by all of us in Europe.” (With dpa, Reuters)