Two terrorist attacks rocked France Thursday morning, the first striking the Notre Dame cathedral in Nice and the other in Avignon.
The Daily Mail reports a knifeman beheaded two at 9am in Nice, one victim was an elderly female parishioner and the other a male church warden. He went on to fatally stab a second woman and wounded several others before being shot and arrested by French police.
Just two hours later, a second attacker shouting “Allahu Akbar” in the streets and armed with a handgun was shot dead by police in Avignon, 120 miles from Nice. Around the same time, across the world in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a guard at the French consulate was stabbed.
The terrorist attacks come in the aftermath of outrage in the Islamic world after French president Emmanuel Macron defended cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed on the day that some Muslims believe is the prophet’s birthday.
Thursday’s attacks also came less than two weeks after a school teacher in Paris was beheaded after showing Mohammed cartoons to his class while giving a lesson about freedom of speech.
At the Notre Dame cathedral in Nice, a woman in her 70s was beheaded after coming to the church early to pray. The second victim, a 45-year-old father of two, was also beheaded. The third victim, a woman in her 30s of African origin, was stabbed multiple times. She fled to a bar across the street where she later died from her injuries.
At 9:10am local time, French police were called. Amateur videos show officers storming the cathedral where they shot the terrorist and arrested him.
The attacker is reported to be a man in his 20s who gave his name as Brahim to officers when he was arrested, reports The Telegraph.
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi called the attack an act of terrorism and the assailant an “Islamo-fascist” who “didn’t shoot shouting Allahu Akhbar.” President Macron traveled to Nice to join Mayor Estrosi to speak with police officers and first responders.
A witness named David who runs a restaurant opposite the church told BFMTV he had alerted the police.
“I was selling croissants when a man came in and said to me: ‘Monsieur, there’s a decapitated woman in the cathedral.’ I didn’t believe him at first but he repeated it. I went to the cathedral and saw the municipal police and called to them. They came quickly.”
“I went back [to the restaurant] and pulled down the security grill.”
In Saudi Arabia, officials condemned the attack. Police released a statement saying the guard suffered “minor injuries” and that “legal action” was being taken against the assailant. The guard had been taken to the hospital with minor injuries.