PARIS – An attacker with a knife killed at least two people in a church in the southern French city of Nice Thursday morning, local officials said it was apparently a terrorist attack.
The attack comes as the country continues to be rocked by the beheading of a teacher in a Paris suburb this month by a young Muslim man after the teacher showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said in a statement posted on Twitter shortly after the attack that he was with the police and a suspect had been arrested. He later said at least two people were killed and one seriously injured.
“I confirm that everything points to a terrorist attack in the Notre Dame Basilica,” wrote the mayor.
Éric Ciotti, a lawmaker who represents the region that includes Nice, told reporters in Paris that based on the information provided by emergency services, it “looks very much like a terrorist attack”.
The French interior minister Gérald Darmanin said in a post on Twitter that he immediately called a crisis meeting.
The attack took place at the Notre-Dame de L’Assomption basilica and local authorities did not immediately provide details of the victims or the circumstances. Police warned residents to stay out of the vicinity of the church as a “very serious” incident was ongoing and controlled explosives were being used. They urged residents to stay calm.
Videos posted on social media showed lines of people walking out of the area around the church as police evacuated the scene.
In 2016, Nice was also the site of one of France’s worst terrorist attacks when a man plowed a 19-ton refrigerated truck into crowds who had gathered on the city’s main promenade to see fireworks and kill 86 people.
Megan Specia contributed to coverage from London.