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French Police Question Man over Contacts with Nice Killer

French Police Question Man over Contacts with Nice Killer

Friday, 30 October, 2020 - 09:00
Security forces guard the area after a knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, France, October 29, 2020. REUTERS

A 47-year-old man believed to have been in contact with the suspected knifeman who killed three people at a church in the French city of Nice has been detained for questioning, a judicial source said Friday.

The man was detained late Thursday after the attack in Nice's Notre-Dame basilica by a 21-year-old Tunisian who arrived in France on October 9.

France's anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said the attacker, identified as Brahim Aouissaoui, entered the church in the center of the city at around 8:30 am.

He slit the throats of a 60-year-old woman and a 55-year-old man who worked at the church, and stabbed a 44-year-old woman who managed to flee but later died of her wounds.

The victims were "people targeted for the sole reason that they were present in this church at that moment," Ricard said at a press conference late Thursday.

President Emmanuel Macron called it a terrorist attack, and the government has placed its terror alert at maximum ahead of the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day on Sunday.

France will not "give up on our values," Macron said in Nice.

Judicial sources said Aouissaoui arrived in Italy last month and then travelled to France.

The police who shot Aouissaoui had "without any doubt prevented an even higher toll," said chief prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard.

The Tunisian was seriously wounded by police and hospitalized in life-threatening condition.

The church killings come after the October 16 beheading in a Paris suburb of history teacher Samuel Paty by an extremist after Paty showed pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

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