Macron declares France ‘under attack’ after church beheading

Paris: French President Emmanuel Macron bolstered security in schools and religious sites Thursday after three churchgoers were killed, including one woman reportedly decapitated, in a knife attack in the southern city of Nice, saying that “France is under attack.”

Macron’s announcement to increase deployments from around 3,000 currently to 7,000 soldiers to schools and religious sites around the country came hours after the attack that left two women and a man dead and several others wounded at the Notre Dame basilica, Fox News reported.

Reacting to the attacks, Indian foreign ministry said there was no justification for terrorism. Incidentally, Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla was visiting Paris on Thursday.

The killings put France on its highest level of alert and come at a time of extreme tension over the republication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

“It’s very clear that it is France that is under attack,” Macron said during an address in Nice, adding that “France will not give up on our values” in what he described as an “Islamist terrorist attack.”

“If we are attacked once again it is for the values which are ours: the freedom, for this possibility on our soil to believe freely and not to give in to any spirit of terror,” Macron continued. “I say it with great clarity once again today: we won’t surrender anything.”

The suspect, believed to be acting alone, was injured during his arrest and was taken to a local area hospital, police said.

An investigation was opened into an attack by the French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office. Images on French media showed the neighborhood locked down and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said the country’s threat level will be raised to its maximum after the attack. He also told the French National Assembly that the government’s response to the attack would be firm and implacable.

Mayor Christian Estrosi suggested that the Thursday morning attack seemed to be terror-related, although a motive is unclear at this time. Estrosi said the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar!” — or “God is most great” in Arabic — repeatedly as police apprehended him and that “the meaning of his gesture left no doubt.”

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