A man wielding a knife killed three people at a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday, slitting the throat of at least one, in what President Emmanuel Macron called an “Islamist terrorist attack.”
The assailant, who was shot and wounded by police, was identified as Brahim Aouissaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant who arrived in Italy in late September and later travelled to France, sources close to the inquiry said.
“He kept repeating ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is Greatest) even while under medication” as he was taken to hospital, Nice’s Mayor Christian Estrosi told journalists at the scene.
The body of a woman whose throat had been cut in an apparent beheading attempt was found inside the Basilica of Notre-Dame, in the heart of the Mediterranean resort city.
The body of a man, a church employee of about 45 years old, was also found inside the church, while another woman succumbed to her injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar.
Father Philippe Asso, who serves at the basilica, said that no mass was underway at the time of the attack, but the church opens around 8am (0700 GMT) and “people come in to pray at all hours.”
Churches across France sounded death knells, the traditional bell tolls to mark a death, at 3pm.
The killings, which occurred just ahead of the Catholic holy day of All Saints Day on Sunday, prompted the government to raise the terror alert level to maximum nationwide.
Shortly after the attack, police in the city of Lyon said they had arrested an Afghan who was spotted carrying a 30-centimetre (12-inch) knife while trying to board a tram.
Macron, who quickly travelled to Nice, announced increased surveillance of churches by France’s Sentinelle military patrols, which would be bolstered to 7,000 troops from 3,000.
“Quite clearly, it is France that is being attacked,” he said. “If we are attacked, it is because of our values.”
France’s chief anti-terror prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard is to hold a press conference in Nice at 9pm.
– France on edge – Daniel Conilh, a 32-year-old waiter at the Grand Cafe de Lyon, a block from the church, said it was shortly before 9am when “shots were fired and everybody took off running.”
“A woman came in straight from the church and said, ‘Run, run, someone has been stabbing people’,” he told AFP.
French anti-terror prosecutors have taken over the inquiry.
France has been on high alert since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo which marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 250 people.
Tensions have heightened since last month, when the trial opened for 14 suspected accomplices in that attack.
The paper marked the start of the court proceedings by republishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that infuriated millions of Muslims worldwide.
Just days later, an 18-year-old man from Pakistan seriously injured two people with a meat cleaver outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in Paris.
And two weeks ago, history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded outside his school in a Paris suburb after he showed some of the Mohammed cartoons to students as part of a course on free speech.
The assailant, an 18-year-old Chechen named Abdullakh Anzorov, apparently acted after some angry parents denounced the teacher on social media.
– ‘Message of peace’ – Paty’s murder prompted Macron to promise a crackdown on Islamic extremism, including shutting down mosques and organisations accused of fomenting radicalism and violence.
But the move has inflamed tensions with many Muslims saying Macron is unfairly targeting France’s estimated five to six million Muslims — the largest community in Europe.
Protests against France have erupted in several Muslim countries, including new rallies Thursday in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and the Palestinian territories.
Shortly after the attack in Nice, Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad sparked outrage by tweeting that “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past”. Twitter later deleted his post.
Adding to the nervousness, a Saudi citizen wounded a guard in a knife attack at the French consulate in Jeddah on Thursday.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday proffered “a message of peace to the Muslim world,” saying France was “the country of tolerance.”
“Do not listen to the voices that want to stoke distrust,” he said in parliament.
In Nice, painful memories remain fresh of a jihadist attack during Bastille Day fireworks on July 14, 2016, when a man rammed his truck into a crowded promenade, killing 86 people.
Abdallah Zekri, director general of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), said: “I can only denounce as strongly as possible this act of cowardice against the innocent.”
Zekri called on French Muslims to cancel festivities to mark the Mawlid, or the Prophet’s Birthday, which ends Thursday, “in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones.” AFP
Kylian Mbappe returned to the starting line-up for Paris Saint-German on Sunday and scored the opener in a 3-0 win at Nice which marks another step on the road to recovery for the French champions.
The 21-year-old, who tested positive for coronavirus on September 7, was on target from the penalty spot in the 38th minute.
Angel di Maria added a second just before half-time and Marquinhos headed the third after 66 minutes. Mbappe thought he had scored a fourth late on but it was ruled out for offside. He was replaced by Pablo Sarabia shortly after.
“I’m impressed by his performance after only one training session with the team,” said coach Thomas Tuchel.
“He always shows that he can do extraordinary things and that he knows how to make a difference. It helps us a lot.”
It was a second successive Ligue 1 win for PSG who began the season still smarting from defeat in the Champions League final. They lost their opening two games and the second ended in a mass brawl against Marseille which led to the suspension of Brazilian forward Neymar.
With Marco Verratti also back, PSG rarely looked troubled in the sunshine of the Mediterranean.
When 19-year-old Khephren Thuram-Ulien clipped Mbappe’s ankle as the striker surged into the box, the France forward picked himself up to blast the ball high into the net.
Four minutes later, Nice almost levelled when PSG goalie Keylor Navas had to get down sharply to his left to beat away a shot from Rony Lopes.
Mbappe was back in the thick of it as the game entered stoppage time at the end of the first half.
Losing two defenders, Mbappe fired in a sharp shot which Nice goalie Walter Benitez did well to parry but only as far as the feet of Di Maria, who tapped in for 2-0.
PSG continued to control the game after the break and were rewarded with a third when Marquinhos got in front of the defence to head home.
Saint-Etienne just about held onto top spot in the table despite throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Nantes and end their perfect start to the new season.
Claude Puel’s side are level on 10 points with next weekend’s opponents Rennes after goals from Moses Simon in the 71st minute and Renaud five minutes from time cancelled out Adil Aouchiche and Yvann Macon’s strikes for the away side.
Later Marseille look to bounce back from their first home defeat in 41 years to 10-time league champions Saint-Etienne last week when they host Lille at the Stade Velodrome.
Striker Dario Benedetto is available again after a suspension for his role in the stoppage-time brawl in the win at PSG earlier this month.
Troublesome Italian striker Mario Balotelli has been given extended leave by French outfit Nice and told to make up his mind about his plans with the club.
Under contract at Nice until the end of the 2018-2019 season, the 28-year-old has scored 33 goals in 51 games since joining the Ligue 1 side in 2016.
Observers, however, feel Patrick Vieira — who took over as coach in June and has overseen just seven wins in 18 league matches — is ready to transfer Balotelli during the winter break with interest reported in England and Turkey.
“I have given Mario a few extra days off to think about his future and what he wants to do,” said Vieira, who played alongside the giant centre-forward at Manchester City and Inter Milan.
“He’s under contract here and everything is possible if we can come to a common agreement who knows,” said Vieira.
Balotelli came close to a move to Marseille over the summer and returned to training late and unfit after the deal fell through.
Memphis Depay starred as Lyon thumped Nice 5-0 on Sunday to move into second behind Paris Saint-Germain in the Ligue 1 table.
The Dutch winger scored twice at Nice’s Allianz Riviera home as Lyon brushed off the absence of captain Nabil Fekir through illness to leapfrog Monaco on goals scored, ahead of the clash between the principality club and PSG later on Sunday.
Former Manchester United player Depay steered in the opener on five minutes, before Maxwell Cornet made it two against a Nice side who are now stuck in the relegation playoff place, having finished third last season.
Mariano Diaz, a close-season signing from Real Madrid, added the third goal in only the 27th minute before Depay curled into the corner before half-time to score his 10th goal of the campaign.
Nice centre-back Marlon was sent off with 20 minutes to play, and 18-year-old Myziane Maolida came off the bench to complete the rout, as he did in Lyon’s midweek 4-0 Europa League win over Apollon Limassol.
Unbeaten PSG visit reigning champions Monaco in the late kickoff, knowing that victory would take them nine points clear at the top of the table.
Nice midfielder Jean-Michael Seri was staying coy on talk of a big-money move to Barcelona amid reports he has already reached agreement on the terms of a contract with the Spanish giants.
The 26-year-old Ivory Coast international played for Nice in their 2-0 defeat to Napoli on Tuesday that saw them miss out on a place in the Champions League group stage as they lost their play-off tie 4-0 on aggregate.
“No it was not my last match for Nice. I will be at Amiens on Saturday,” said Seri, who sports daily L’Equipe reported had agreed a four-year deal with Barcelona over the weekend.
A transfer for up to 40 million euros ($47 million, £36.7 million) has been mooted as the Catalans desperately look to strengthen their squad with the proceeds of Neymar’s world record 222 million-euro move to Paris Saint-Germain.
But Nice have reportedly been reluctant to negotiate so far and Seri added: “I don’t know much about it. I said to everyone to leave me to concentrate on the Champions League and that after we would see if I stayed or went.”
Seri joined Nice in 2015 from the Portuguese club Pacos de Ferreira and has been outstanding in the last two seasons as the French side have finished fourth and then third in Ligue 1.
Nigerian International and Montpellier attacker John Utaka has scored his first goal for the club in the 2012/13 season
Utaka’s strike in the game that played yesterday came in the 64th minute making it Montpellier’s second of the day against OGC Nice and it propelled them to victory with a final score of 3-1.
The attacker who made his Nigeria debut in 2002 and has made 43 appearances for the Super Eagles since then scoring six goals, latched on a sweet defence tearing pass from teammate Rémy Cabella after which he slotted the shot past opposition goal keeper; Joris Delle.
Though,Utaka was on the offside trap when he got the ball as replays showed but officials failed to spot the action as the attacker showed his happiness.
The 30-year-old was an integral figure for Montpellier as they romped to the 2011/12 Ligue 1 title.
He made 43 appearances for the club in all appearances last season netting 8 times.
The forward has yet to replicate that form as he picked up an injury early this season and missed crucial games.
Taking a low dose of aspirin every day can prevent and possibly even treat cancer, fresh evidence suggests. The three new studies published by The Lancet (one of the world’s leading general medical journal) add to mounting evidence of the drug’s anti-cancer effects.
Prof Peter Rothwell, from Oxford University, and colleagues, who carried out the latest work, had already linked aspirin with a lower risk of certain cancers, particularly bowel cancer.
But their previous work suggested people needed to take the drug for about 10 years to get any protection.
Now the same experts believe the protective effect occurs much sooner within three to five years based on a new analysis of data from 51 trials involving more than 77,000 patients. Aspirin appears not only to reduce the risk of developing many different cancers in the first place, but may also stop cancers spreading around the body.
The trials were designed to compare aspirin with no treatment for the prevention of heart disease.
But when Prof Rothwell’s team examined how many of the participants developed and died from cancer, they found this was also related to aspirin use.
Taking a low (75-300mg) daily dose of the drug appeared to cut the total number of cancer cases by about a quarter after only three years – there were nine cancer cases per 1,000 each year in the aspirin-taking group, compared with 12 per 1,000 for those taking dummy pills.
It also reduced the risk of a cancer death by 15% within five years (and sooner if the dose was higher than 300mg)
And if patients stayed on aspirin for longer, their cancer death risk went down even further – by 37% after five years.
Low-dose aspirin also appeared to reduce the likelihood that cancers, particularly bowel, would spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body, and by as much as half in some instances.
In absolute numbers, this could mean for every five patients treated with aspirin one metastatic cancer would be prevented, the researchers estimate.
Prof Rothwell says for most fit and healthy people, the most important things they can do to reduce their lifetime cancer risk is to give up smoking, take exercise and have a healthy diet.
After that aspirin does seem to reduce the risk further – only by a small amount if there is no risk factor, but if there is a family history for something like colorectal cancer, it tips the balance in favour of aspirin, he said.
Prof Peter Johnson, of Cancer Research UK, said it was still a good idea for people thinking of taking aspirin to discuss it with their GP because of the possible side effects.
“We now need some definitive advice from the government as to whether aspirin should be recommended more widely,” he said.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), which issues treatment guidelines for the NHS, has not yet been asked by the government to look at the topic but a spokesman for the Department of Health said they were considering how best to advise the public about the benefits and risks of aspirin.