Knife attack in French city of Nice

By Rob Picheta and Nick Thompson, CNN

Updated 7:01 p.m. ET, October 29, 2020
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8:43 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

What we know about the knife attack in Nice

Further details are emerging about the knife attack in Nice. Here's a summary of what we know right now.

The incident

At least three people were killed in Nice, southern France, during a knife attack at the Notre Dame Basilica, the city's main church.

Videos posted on social media showed police and military officers responding to the incident, setting up a cordon in the city center.

The victims

One of the victims had her throat slit, a police source told CNN. The mayor of Nice had earlier described it as a decapitation.

Another victim – a man – died following multiple stabbings, according to the police source.

The third victim, a woman, was wounded inside the church, but managed to leave. However, she died in a nearby café, the police source said.

The suspect

Nice's mayor Christian Estrosi said the attacker was shot by police, but is still alive and has been taken into custody.

Estrosi said "everything points" to the incident being a terrorist attack, and France's anti-terrorism prosecutor has taken over the investigation.

He added that the suspect kept repeating the words "‘Allahu Akbar in front of us" while being treated by medics. “There is no doubt that the perpetrator of the attack … what his intentions were,” the mayor said.

The reaction

French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Nice later on Thursday, and Prime Minister Jean Castex has promised a "firm" response. The country's terror alert level was raised to "emergency" following the incident.

The "emergency" level means the “maximum level of vigilance” is necessary in case of an imminent threat or immediately after an attack, according to a French government website.

International leaders haved pledged solidarity with France, with the heads of Spain, Italy, Turkey, the UK and the European Parliament among those condemning the violence. The French Council of the Muslim Faith has also condemned the incident.

The background

The incident is the latest in a number of attacks to hit France in recent years, and comes less than two weeks after the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in Paris. Paty was targeted after he used caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad during a lesson.

Nice has been the target of terror in the past. In 2016 dozens died after an ISIS-inspired attacker plowed a 20-ton truck into Bastille Day crowds.

8:49 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

French PM pledges "firm" response and raises terror alert level

French Prime Minister Jean Castex speaks at the National Assembly in Paris on October 29.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex speaks at the National Assembly in Paris on October 29. Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images

The Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, has said the government’s response to the Nice attack will be “firm, implacable, and immediate," adding that the country’s security alert level is being raised to "emergency."

The "emergency" level means the “maximum level of vigilance” is necessary in case of an imminent threat or immediately after an attack, according to a French government website.

France’s Defense and National Security Council will meet Friday morning, Castex said.

Speaking in the French parliament on Thursday, he also paid tribute to the three people who died.

“Three of our compatriots were assassinated with a knife in abject circumstances,” he said.

“In these tragic times, our thoughts go to the families, to their relatives, to Nice parishioners but also more broadly to the whole Catholic community that was intentionally targeted.”

The nation “shares their pain,” Castex said.

8:58 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Turkey “strongly condemns" church attack and declares solidarity with France 

From CNN’s Isil Sariyuce in Istanbul and Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi

The Turkish Foreign Ministry “strongly condemns” the attack on a church in the French city of Nice and offered their “condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives”, a statement said. 

“There is no reason that can justify killing a person or justify violence. It is clear that those who organized such a brutal attack in a holy place of worship do not have any religious, humanitarian and moral values,” the statement said. 

“As a country that struggles with different types of terrorism and loses its citizens due to terrorism, we emphasize that we are in solidarity with the French people, especially the residents of Nice, against terrorism and violence,” it added. 

Relations between French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are increasingly tense. In the past week Erdogan said that Macron needs “mental treatment” over his attitude towards Muslims in France, prompting the French government to withdraw its ambassador from Ankara. 

French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan AFP/Getty Images

8:51 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

One victim in Nice had "throat slit," police source says

From CNN's Barbara Wojazer in Paris

Forensics officers work at the site of a knife attack as French soldiers stand guard in Nice.
Forensics officers work at the site of a knife attack as French soldiers stand guard in Nice. Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

One of the victims of the Nice terror attack in France had her throat slit, a police source has told CNN.

The local mayor had earlier described it as a decapitation.

According to the police source, one of the other victims – a man – died following multiple stabbings.

The third victim, a woman, was wounded inside the church, but managed to leave. However, she died in a nearby café, the police source said.

7:44 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Man arrested after stabbing guard at French consulate in Saudi Arabia

From CNN’s Mostafa Salem in Abu Dhabi and Barbara Wojazer in Paris

A Saudi man was arrested after attacking a guard at Jeddah’s French consulate with a sharp tool on Thursday, Saudi state media said. 

The stabbing attack resulted in minor injuries and the guard was moved to a hospital, state media added. 

The French embassy in Saudi Arabia condemned the attack calling it “flagrant”. 

“We express our trust in Saudi authorities to reveal the circumstances behind the attack, as well as to ensure the security of French property and the French community in Saudi Arabia,” the statement said.

7:08 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

World leaders react to attack in Nice

Global leaders are responding to the alleged terror attack in Nice, France, pledging solidarity with the city and condemning the violence that has left at least three people dead.

The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, said on Twitter he was "deeply shocked and saddened by the news of the horrific attack in Nice." He added: "This pain is felt by all of us in Europe."

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also tweeted his “deep sympathy and solidarity towards the victim of the attack.” He added we are “united in face of terror and hatred.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also tweeted his condolences in both Italian and French, ending his message by saying "We are united!"

6:54 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

French Muslim Council condemns Nice attack

From CNN's Fanny Bobille in Paris

The French Council of the Muslim Faith has condemned the knife attack in the city of Nice which left three people dead.

“I strongly condemn the terrorist attack that took place near the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice. As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their families, I call on the Muslims of France to cancel all the Mawlid festivities,” the council tweeted.

Mawlid is celebrated by some Muslims to mark the birthday of Islam's Prophet Mohammed.

6:34 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

Attack occurred at a church in the center of Nice

France's anti-terror prosecutor has taken on the investigation into the knife attack in Nice, a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office said.

The knife attack took place in the vicinity of the city's main church, the Notre Dame Basilica.

Google Maps
Google Maps

Nice is located on France's southern coast, near Monaco and the border with Italy.

6:26 a.m. ET, October 29, 2020

BREAKING: Three dead in France attack; one "decapitated," mayor says

From CNN's Gaëlle Fournier in Paris

Three people are now confirmed dead – including one woman who was "decapitated" – following a terror attack in the French city of Nice, the mayor Christian Estrosi has said.

“It seems that, according to the first findings of the police, the woman who was inside the church has been decapitated. For the other victims, we cannot say anything at the moment,” he told BFM TV.