HORROR CHURCH BEHEADING: 'Simultaneous' attacks, stabbings


France is under siege as it was hit by two suspected terror attacks which left three dead - including a woman beheaded by a knifeman shouting "Allahu Akbar".

Two separate knifemen are understood to have launched attacks in Nice and Avignon just hours apart amid a furious row over controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in France.

A woman has reportedly been beheaded in a suspected terror attack inside a church in France, according to media reports.

Three people were killed in the bloody rampage which saw the knifeman storm the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice, in the south of France.

Police have identified the suspect in Nice as Brahim Aouissaoui, who was born in 1999.

French President Emmanuel Macron has visited the site of the attack:

Meanwhile, almost simultaneously a security guard at the French Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was also stabbed and left with minor injuries. A man has also been arrested. State television says the suspect was armed with has been described as a sharp tool.

And then a man shouting "Allahu Akbar" while brandishing a knife was shot dead 250km away from Nice in Avignon, according to police. Nobody else has been reported injured.

It is unclear what motivated the attacks or whether they are related.

Police arrive on the scene.
Police arrive on the scene.

France has raised its attack level to "urgent" and Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government's response will be "relentless and immediate".

Eric Ciotti, a Republican politician and member of the French National Assembly, tweeted: "Attack in Nice, attack in Avignon, attack on the French consulate in Saudi Arabia.

"It is not a coincidence, the Islamists want to annihilate us! We must destroy the Islamists!!."

News is still emerging about the Nice attack.
News is still emerging about the Nice attack.

One of the female victim's of the Nice attack was reportedly decapitated inside the church.It was widely reported in French media she was beheaded, and the city's mayor also confirmed the nature of the injuries, as well as police sources speaking to Reuters.

The male victim who was stabbed to death is said to be the church's 45-year-old sacristan, an officer charged with taking care of the church.

The third victim - a woman - reportedly managed to escape and took refuge in a nearby bar where she succumbed to her injuries, reports BFMTV. The National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutors Office confirmed they have launched an investigation.

Armed cops then stormed Notre-Dame - the largest Roman Catholic church in Nice - and shot the suspected terrorist, wounding him.

Emergency services on the scene.
Emergency services on the scene.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi The attacker kept shouting "Allahu Akbar" even after he had been shot and as he was given medical care.

He said: "Enough is enough. The suspected knife attacker was shot by police while being detained, he is on his way to hospital, he is alive.

"I must say that Nice, like France, but perhaps more than other places in the country today, is paying too heavy a price by being once again the victim of islamofascism."

It comes amid heightened security fears in France amid the ongoing row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo.

Nice mayor Christian Estrosi tweeted: "I confirm that everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Notre-Dame Basilica."

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted: "A police operation is in progress.

"Avoid the area and follow the instructions."

He announced he has called a "crisis meeting" in response to the attack.

A local police spokesman said: "A man has been arrested at the scene after being shot by police.

France has provoked the ire of Iran and Turkey as it has taken a tough line in defending the cartoons of the prophet.

Samuel Paty, 47, was beheaded by 18-year-old Abdullah Anzorov on October 17 after using the cartoons to teach his students about the importance of free speech.

He was posthumously given the Legion d'Honneur - France's highest award - and French president Emmanuel Macron insisted the country would "not give up our cartoons".

A suspected terror attack has happened at the Notre Dame cathedral in Nice. Picture: Twitter
A suspected terror attack has happened at the Notre Dame cathedral in Nice. Picture: Twitter

Prophet Mohammed cartoons have been displayed in France in solidarity with Paty to defend what many in the country see as its values of free speech and secularism.

Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values - which has angered many Muslims.

France has launched a crackdown on what it perceives to be radical Islam, announcing it has searched more than 120 homes and closed down a mosque in Pantin.

Paty, a history and geography teacher, is being seen as a champion of free speech by many in France after his brutal death.

The image he showed to students was the same one published by Charlie Hebdo that sparked the attack on the magazine's offices that killed 12.

Nine people - including members of the attacker's family - have been arrested over his death.

His killing came after another knife attack near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo just weeks prior - in which the suspect is believed to have tried to target the magazine.

Yesterday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani warned the row over the cartoons could lead to "violence and bloodshed".

He said: "It's a surprise that this would come from those claiming culture and democracy, that they would somehow, even if unintentionally, encourage violence and bloodshed."

Rouhani added: "Westerners must understand the great Prophet of Islam is loved by all Muslims and freedom-lovers of the world.

"Insulting the Prophet is insulting all Muslims. Insulting the Prophet is insulting all prophets, human values, and amounts to undermining ethic."

This story originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.

Originally published as Two beheaded in France 'mass stabbing'