3 dead in France church attack

An attacker armed with a knife killed three people inside a church on Thursday in the southern French city of Nice, prompting the government to raise its security alert status to the maximum level hours before a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

It was the third attack in two months in France that authorities have attributed to extremists, including the beheading of a teacher.

Other confrontations and attacks were reported on Thursday in the southern French city of Avignon and in the Saudi city of Jeddah, but it was not immediately clear if they were linked to the attack in Nice.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he would immediately increase the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from around 3,000 currently to 7,000, and France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation.

The assailant was wounded by police and hospitalized after the killings at the Notre Dame Basilica, less than a kilometer from the site in 2016 where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens of people. Thursday’s attacker was believed to be acting alone, and police are not searching for other assailants, said two police officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to be publicly named.

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