Three people are dead following a knife attack in the French city of Nice on Thursday morning.
The incident took place in and around the Notre-Dame basilica, according to Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi, who was on the scene and shared details on his Twitter page. He said “everything suggests a terror attack” that took place within the cathedral. The suspect — who was injured during arrest — has now been detained and taken to hospital. Meanwhile, France’s anti-terror authorities have opened a murder inquiry.
Police have said one woman had her throat cut in the attack, according to the BBC. One of the victims is a caretaker at the basilica, said Estrosi.
Bouleversé par les 3 victimes dont 2 décédées a l’intérieur de la Basilique #NotreDame et notamment le gardien si apprécié par les paroissiens. #Nice06 a payé un trop lourd tribu au meme titre que notre pays depuis quelques années. J’appelle à l’unité des Niçois.
— Christian Estrosi (@cestrosi) October 29, 2020
Reports indicate that worshippers were inside the building during the attack, and one individual was able to raise a special alarm that had been installed by the city.
France’s interior ministry has said security and rescue forces are now on the ground in Nice, and has asked residents to avoid the area. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to visit the scene on Thursday.
The incident comes almost two weeks after the murder of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded earlier this month close to his school. He is believed to have been targeted after showing students cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class. Meanwhile, in late September, two staff at production company Premieres Lignes, which made HBO documentary “Three Days of Terror: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks,” were severely injured in a knife attack outside the former Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Nice was the site of a major terror incident in July 2016, when a 19-ton truck drove into Bastille Day crowds, killing 86 and injuring more than 400 people. The Islamic State ultimately claimed responsibility for the attack.
The seaside city in the south of France is around one hour’s drive from Cannes, where a three-day mini-festival has been underway since Tuesday. Variety has reached out to festival organizers to inquire about potentially enhanced security protocols in light of the terror attack, but has yet to hear back about updated measures.
The mini-festival kicked off with heavy security protocols already in place, as Cannes has been wont to do in recent years given the spate of terror incidents in France.
French leader Macron on Wednesday said the nation would be placed in partial lockdown from Nov. 30, with all non-essential businesses, including cinemas, forced to close.