Good Knife Assault Being Handled as Terrorism

PARIS — Lower than two weeks after the beheading of a French schoolteacher, an assailant carrying a knife entered the towering gothic basilica within the southern metropolis of Good early Thursday and killed three individuals, additional inflaming tensions in a county already on edge and main authorities to extend the fear risk degree.

Officers in Good described the assault as Islamist terrorism, and it was shortly adopted by two comparable occasions — together with a knife-wielding assailant outdoors a French Consulate in Saudi Arabia — although it was not instantly clear whether or not the occasions have been coordinated.

The mayor of Good, Christian Estrosi, instructed reporters on Thursday {that a} suspect, who has not been recognized, was arrested after being shot and wounded by the police. The suspect “stored repeating Allahu akbar in entrance of us regardless that he was sedated,” Mr. Estrosi stated, including this left “little question” as to the motivation behind the assault.

Prime Minister Jean Castex shortly introduced that authorities have been putting the nation on its highest terrorism risk degree, with heightened safety at locations of worship, and he stated the response to the assault can be “agency and relentless.”

“This assault, which is as craven as it’s barbaric, plunges the complete nation into mourning,” Mr. Castex instructed lawmakers in Paris.

The killings in Good come at an especially delicate time for France, which remains to be shaken by the beheading of the teacher, Samuel Paty, and is about to enter a monthlong lockdown due to the coronavirus.

Since Mr. Paty’s killing in a Paris suburb by a younger Muslim man, the French authorities have undertaken a broad crackdown towards what they characterised as Muslim extremists in France, conducting dozens of raids, briefly closing a significant mosque and disbanding a Muslim support group that authorities accuse of “advocating radical Islam” and hate speech.

These measures have discovered widespread help in a nation nonetheless traumatized by Islamic State-inspired terrorist assaults lately — together with two that killed a complete of greater than 200 individuals.

However President Emmanuel Macron’s vow that France would shield the proper to caricature the Prophet Muhammad have drawn harsh criticism in the Muslim world. And the tone of a few of Mr. Macron’s ministers — certainly one of them stated he objected to kosher or halal aisles in supermarkets — has left France’s Muslim inhabitants of about 6 million individuals feeling more and more alienated.

Whereas it isn’t but clear whether or not Thursday’s assault was carried out in response to the federal government’s measures, they instantly fortified calls among the many French authorities for even more durable efforts to fight Islamist extremism in methods nearly sure to deepen the polarization of the nation.

“There’s a girl who fairly clearly was attacked with the identical modus operandi as Samuel Paty,” the Good mayor, Mr. Estrosi, instructed BFM TV, referring to the trainer who was killed by a younger Muslim in mid-October after displaying caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a category.

“Sufficient is sufficient,” Mr. Estrosi stated. “It’s now time for France to exempt itself of peacetime legal guidelines to completely annihilate Islamo-facism from our territory.”

President Emmanuel Macron himself has vowed to crack down on what he called “Islamist separatism” with a spread of measures geared toward countering extremism inside the Muslim neighborhood.

The measures embody putting stringent limits on home-schooling and rising scrutiny of spiritual colleges, making associations that solicit public funds signal a “constitution” on secularism, and phasing out the widespread observe of bringing over international imams to work in France whereas investing in home-based coaching of imams.

After the assault in Good, on the metropolis’s largest church, Notre-Dame de L’Assomption, France’s antiterrorism prosecutor stated that the workplace had opened an investigation into terrorism-related offenses.

Two of the victims have been killed within the church itself, whereas a 3rd died after taking refuge in a close-by bar, the mayor stated.

Not lengthy after, in Avignon, a person with a handgun who threatened bystanders was shot and killed by law enforcement officials, in response to native information stories, although it was not clear that the incident was terrorism associated. And on the French Consulate within the Saudi metropolis of Jeddah, a suspect was shortly arrested after a separate knife assault that wounded a safety guard, who was hospitalized.

In recent times, France has skilled a number of assaults like these carried out on Thursday. The nation confronted a string of mass casualty assaults in 2015 and 2016 by organized networks, however the latest assaults have extra typically been remoted acts carried out by lone assailants dwelling in France, one thing that may be tougher to stop.

Not one of the assailants in two earlier assaults this fall, together with a stabbing in September near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo — the satirical newspaper that printed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad — have been recognized to the authorities.

In 2016, Good was traumatized by certainly one of France’s worst terrorist assaults, when a man plowed a 19-ton refrigeration truck into crowds that had gathered on the town’s primary seaside promenade to look at fireworks, killing 86.

The police warned residents to steer clear of the world across the church on Thursday as a “very critical” occasion was underway and managed explosives have been getting used to clear the church of any suspicious packages. Additionally they urged residents to stay calm. Videos posted to social media confirmed strains of individuals submitting out of the world across the church as police evacuated the scene.

Lawmakers who have been current on the Nationwide Meeting, the decrease home of the French Parliament, noticed a minute of silence on Thursday morning after listening to information of the assault.

The assault got here simply hours earlier than France is scheduled to go back on a one-month lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has flared dangerously round Europe over the previous weeks with a surge of circumstances and hospitalizations.

“I can solely, as soon as once more within the very troublesome circumstances that our nation goes by way of, within the challenges it’s present process, name on the complete nationwide illustration to unity and cohesion,” Jean Castex, the prime minister, instructed lawmakers.

France’s inside minister, Gérald Darmanin, stated in a put up on Twitter that he had instantly convened a disaster assembly. Mr. Macron, who joined the assembly, is anticipated in Good in a while Thursday.

Officers didn’t establish the victims, however Mr. Estrosi stated one was the sacristan of the church. The Bishop’s Convention of France stated in a statement that the victims have been a “image” who had been focused merely as a result of they have been within the basilica.

“Regardless of the ache that grips them, Catholics refuse to provide in to worry and, with all the nation, need to face this treacherous and blind risk,” the assertion stated.

It was not the primary time a church was focused by an assault. In 2016, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, an 85-year-old priest, was celebrating Mass in Normandy when two men with knives entered his small church and slit his throat. And a person is at present on trial in France for a failed plot to assault a church in Villejuif, a Parisian church, that left one woman dead.

Politicians from throughout the political the political spectrum condemned the assault, in addition to French Muslim representatives.

Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the French Council of Muslim Religion, requested French Muslims on Twitter to cancel all Mawlid festivities, which rejoice the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, “as an indication of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their family members.”

Megan Specia contributed reporting from London.

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