A woman fatally stabbed in a suspected terrorist attack in France’s southeast delivered a final message to her children before she died, a French politician said.
An attacker armed with a knife killed three people at Nice’s Notre Dame church about 9am (local time) on Thursday as he yelled “Allahu Akbar”.
He entered the church and slit the throat of the sexton, beheaded an elderly woman and badly wounded a third woman, according to a police source.
The sexton and the elderly woman died on the spot.
The third woman managed to make it out of the church into a nearby cafe, where she died, Nice’s mayor Christian Etrosi told reporters.
French Senator Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam revealed the woman’s final words before she succumbed to her injuries.
“Tell my children that I love them,” she said, according to Ms Garriaud-Maylam on Twitter.
“Immense emotion in front of this abominable attack,” the senator added.
The woman in her 30s was stabbed several times, The Guardian reported.
Ms Garriaud-Maylam later attributed her source to police via French news station BFM TV.
The male victim has been identified as 55-year-old Vincent Loques who had worked at the church for 10 years.
A parishioner at the church, Laura Male, revealed he devoted his life to his work there.
“He’s always there, he spends the day there. He shares his life here. He’s not someone who comes and goes. This is his home, he’s here all day,” she said, according to The Guardian.
Attacker named by police sources
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 Italy.
A Tunisian security source and a French police source later named the suspect as Brahim Aouissaoui.
The assailant was wounded by police and taken to hospital.
The attack came less than a kilometre from the site where another attacker ploughed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens of people in 2016.
Thursday’s attack was the third in two months in France amid a growing furore over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished by the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo.
It came on the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.
A defiant President Emmanuel Macron, declaring France had been subject to an Islamist terrorist attack, said he would deploy thousands more soldiers to protect important French sites, such as places of worship and schools.
Speaking from the scene, he 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."
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, state television reported a Saudi man had been arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and injuring a guard at the French consulate. The French Embassy said he was in hospital after a knife assault, though his life was not in danger.
Within hours of the Nice attack, French police killed a man who had threatened passersby with a handgun in Montfavet, near the southern city of Avignon.
France's Le Figaro newspaper quoted a prosecution source as saying the man was undergoing psychiatric treatment and they did not believe there was a terrorism motive.
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