Three in custody in France following Nice attack
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[October 31, 2020]
By Sarah White and Michel Rose
PARIS (Reuters) - A third person was taken
into custody in France in connection with a knife attack which left
three dead in Nice on Thursday, a police source said on Saturday, as the
government ramps up security efforts against possible militant attacks.
An assailant shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) beheaded a woman
and killed two other people in a church in Nice, in France's second
deadly knife attack in two weeks.
The third arrest took place on Friday and followed another that day and
a previous one on Thursday, the police source said. At least two of the
people in custody, including one Nice resident, were being investigated
over suspected contacts with the attacker, judicial sources have said.
The suspected assailant was shot by police and is now in critical
condition in a hospital.
President Emmanuel Macron has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect
sites such as places of worship and schools, and ministers have warned
that other Islamist militant attacks could take place.
The Nice attack, on the day Muslims celebrate the Prophet Mohammad's
birthday, came amid growing Muslim anger across the world over France's
defence of the right to publish cartoons depicting the prophet.
On Oct. 16, Samuel Paty, a school teacher in a Paris suburb, was
beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen who was apparently incensed by the
teacher showing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in class.
Protesters have denounced France in street rallies in several
Muslim-majority countries, and some have called for boycotts of French
An interview with Macron on the TV network Al Jazeera, in which he
addresses some of these tensions, is due to air later on Saturday, the
French president's office said.
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A policeman carries flowers in front of the Notre Dame church in
tribute to the victims of a deadly knife attack in Nice, France,
October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
By reaching out directly to Muslim audiences, Macron is keen to
counter what he sees as a misinterpretation of his recent statements
on Islam and explain France's often misunderstood secularist model,
people close to him said.
Macron also spoke to Pope Francis on Friday, following the attack at
the Notre-Dame Catholic basilica in Nice, the President's office
said, and discussed the importance of freedom of speech and of
dialogue between religions.
"He (Macron) stated he would continue to fight against extremism so
that all French people can express their faith in peace and without
fear," his office said.
France's chief anti-terrorism prosecutor has said the man suspected
of carrying out the Nice attack was a Tunisian born in 1999 who had
arrived in Europe on Sept. 20 in Lampedusa, the Italian island off
Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Palermo, in Italy, are
investigating the man's subsequent passage through the island,
including the people he might have been in touch with there, and are
requisitioning phone records, judicial sources told Reuters.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the suspect
arrived in the Italian city of Bari in early October, on a ship used
to quarantine migrants, before leaving for Palermo, the sources
(Reporting by Sarah White and Michel Rose in Paris and Wladimiro
Pantaleone in Sicily; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Ros Russell)
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