On the morning of Thursday the 29th, the French city of Nice was rocked by an Islamist terrorist attack that left 3 innocent people dead, one of whom was beheaded.
Here’s what we know so far.
Who was the attacker?
Police have yet to officially confirm the attacker’s identity, but French media have identified him as Brahim Aioussaoi. The suspect is said to be a 21-year-old Tunisian national.
Fransa'nın Nice kentindeki saldırganın kimliği belli oldu. Üç kişiyi öldüren saldırganın
21 yaşındaki Tunuslu mülteci Brahim Aioussaoi olduğu ortaya çıktı. pic.twitter.com/rGnMOQLxy7
— Timur Krijger 🇹🇷 (@krijger_timur) October 30, 2020
It is believed that he entered Europe on the 20th of September after arriving on the Italian isle of Lampedusa. He later travelled on to his destination of France.
The man was not previously known to French or Tunisian security services, and had no known criminal record.
French authorities also arrested a 47-year-old man who is suspected of being connected to the attack. It is believed that this man was in contact with the killer the day before the massacre took place.
The chief French anti-terrorism prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard, told reporters that CCTV footage had showed the suspect arriving in Nice on the train the morning of the attack, where he then changed his clothes and carried out the attack.
When police finally arrived, the suspect approached in a “threatening manner” according to Ricard, repeatedly shouting the Arabic phrase “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is greatest”). He was shot with a taser gun by police and live bullets were discharged. He was then treated for his wounds at the scene and taken to hospital.
As well as the knife used in the deadly stab attack, police found two additional blades in the suspect’s bag, among other items.
Who were the victims?
There were 3 victims of the attack – a male church staff member and two female worshipers. They had gathered in the Catholic church for the first mass of the day.
The staff member has been identified by French media as a 55-year-old man named Vincent Loquès. Loquès was reportedly a devoted Roman Catholic who had worked as a sexton at the Basilica for over a decade. He was a father to two daughters, and was well loved and known in the religious community.
Vincent Loques, 45, a father-of-two and sacristan of the Notre Dame basilica in Nice.
— Latin Mass Society (@latinmassuk) October 29, 2020
Local members of the parish speaking to French media described Loquès as someone who “always smiled” and who had committed his life “to serving the church”. One parishioner told France Info “He fed the refugees, he had a good heart.”
Loquès was in the process of opening the church doors on the morning of Thursday the 29th, when the jihadist cut his throat.
The second victim was 44-year-old Brazilian national Simone Barreto Silva. Silva was a mother of three and a carer for the elderly. She had lived in France for 30 years after moving from Northern Brazil.
One of the three martyrs of the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice slain by a radical Muslim
44-year-old Brazilian mother of three Simone Barreto Silva
Her last words, "Tell my children I love them."
Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. pic.twitter.com/9alWWzlkkV
— Nick Donnelly (@ProtecttheFaith) October 30, 2020
After being fatally stabbed, Silva managed to initially escape and hid in a restaurant close to church.
“Tell my children I love them,” she told paramedics who arrived at the scene before passing away shortly after.
The third victim was a woman in her 60s, and has not yet been identified. She was discovered after being “almost beheaded” beside the holy water font according to police.
What was the motive?
It is clear from the evidence available that the motive was Islamic terror.
The attacker repeatedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” while committing the atrocity, and a copy of the Koran was recovered in his bag.
A deadly stabbing attack has occurred in Nice, France at the Notre Dame basilica. Three were killed. The basilica’s caretaker is reportedly beheaded. One suspect is in custody. The city’s mayor says the suspect repeatedly shouted “Allahu akbar.” https://t.co/4CuUKgoFpH
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) October 29, 2020
Ricard claimed that three victims were “targeted for the sole reason that they were present in the church at the time”.
On the same day as this church attack, police in the French city of Avignon shot and killed another armed suspect, and a security guard protecting the French consulate in Saudi Arabia was attacked and injured. All of this comes the same month as a French school teacher was beheaded by an Islamist terrorists for showing his class a picture of Islam’s founder Muhammad.
Much of the Muslim world has been up in arms since French president Emmanuel Macron defended the right of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists to mock religions such as Islam under free speech. Additionally, since the beheading of the French teacher this month, Macron promised a severe crackdown on radical Islam.
We must continue to fully back Macron as Muslims around the world burn French flags. https://t.co/XDg7ffy2Oh
— Mahyar Tousi (@MahyarTousi) October 30, 2020
Mumbai: French President’s posters pasted on road to be trampled upon after ‘blasphemy’ beheadings, Islamist Raza Academy lauds the act
Protests by some ‘Indian’ Muslims against France comes at a time when India has expressed support for Francehttps://t.co/cei8IjeNnr
— OpIndia.com (@OpIndia_com) October 30, 2020
Since then there have been calls in numerous Muslim majority countries to boycott French goods and services, and the Ayatollah Khomeini has publicly condembed Macron for insulting “God’s messenger”.
Turkish President Erdogan: Boycott all French goods.
His wife: Carrying a bag manufactured by Hermes, a French company. pic.twitter.com/g0ywaTYyuG
— Imam of Peace🕊 (@Imamofpeace) October 29, 2020
The representative of Ayatollah Khamenei in the #IRGC's Quds Force released a statement condemning French President #Macron, saying: The President of France, following the apostate Salman Rushdi, intends to disrupt the peace of human society and fueled corruption of the public. pic.twitter.com/hrL4FYcoXI
— Iran International English (@IranIntl_En) October 28, 2020
What has the reaction to the latest attack been?
French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly condemned the attacks.
“It is France that is under attack,” the President stated, calling on citizens to “not give in to any terror”.
Hundreds of mourners held a candle-lit vigil in remembrance of the victims before the new lockdown came into effect.
— WatchOurCity.com (@WatchOurCity) October 29, 2020
Outside the church in Nice, candles have been lit and flowers laid at a makeshift vigil to the victims. Those who spoke at the scene said the attack had stricken them with grief.
One local parishioner speaking to Sky News, Herve Le Bihan, said that his “compassion goes out to all the victims and the families of the victims.”
“This not the first time that a church has been targeted, that Catholics have been targeted in their place of worship. It’s very symbolic what they’ve done…We need a strong response, I’m very unhappy faced with a situation like this.”
Herve also here concern about the possibility of future attacks.
Following the vigil, protestors marched to the basilica where the atrocity took place, singing the French national anthem and waving their national flag.
Additionally, there has been an outpouring of support from the international community.
Once Brazil’s foreign ministry confirmed that one of their citizens was among the victims of the “atrocious attack”, Brasilian President Jair Bolsonaro expressed his “deepest condolences to the family”.
Turkey has said it stands with the French people in opposition to violence and terrorism, while Pope Francis said that the attack had “sowed death in a place of prayer”.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he was deeply shocked by the attack, while US President Donald Trump said that American would “stand with its oldest ally in this fight (against terorrism).”
However, large crowds gathered outside of the French embassies in Moscow and London to chant “Allahu akbar”, with crowds of Muslims across the world burning French flags and denouncing the European country despite the atrocity.
Yet another anti-Macron protest outside the French Embassy in Moscow today. Opposition-leaning Russians question police's tolerance when they cracked down on peaceful single pickets before, and with Russia marking another corona record today. (photos: Denis Kaminev @tvrain ) pic.twitter.com/OYCC9QrDs8
— Eva Hartog (@EvaHartog) October 30, 2020
Police have broken up an "unlawful" demonstration outside the French embassy in London after a large group gathered there to protest in the wake of the attack in Nice https://t.co/OrJbNItyq4
— LBC (@LBC) October 30, 2020