France terror: More attacks likely, minister warns, as Nice victims named

Country is engaged in ‘war against Islamist ideology’, Gerald Darmanin says

Zoe Tidman
Friday 30 October 2020 19:15 GMT
Tributes to the victims of the Nice attack outside the Notre-Dame basilica
Tributes to the victims of the Nice attack outside the Notre-Dame basilica (AP)

France is likely to face more attacks, the interior minister has warned, as details emerged of the three people killed in Nice.

Vincent Loques, a 55-year-old sexton, or church officer, has been named as one of the victims of Thursday’s knife attack at a church in the southern French city.

Another victim was Brazilian-born Simone Barreto Silva, a 44-year-old mother of three who moved to France to join a dance group led by her sister and worked in care, according to Brazilian media portal G1.

On Friday, France’s interior minister said more attacks were likely on French soil, as the country is engaged in a “war against Islamist ideology”.

Simone Barreto Silva
Simone Barreto Silva (Reuters)

The day before, a knife-wielding attacker shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is Great) beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the Notre-Dame church in Nice before being shot by police and taken away.

"We are in a war against an enemy that is both inside and outside," Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, told RTL radio.

"We need to understand that there have been and there will be other events such as these terrible attacks."

France’s security alert was raised to its highest level following the deadly knife attack in Nice, which is being investigated by anti-terrorism prosecutors. 

Three people were killed, while another person was injured in the attack, a police official told The Independent

There has been some confusion over how the victims were killed, with French police initially telling The Independent all three had their throats cut. When approached on Friday, a police official told The Independent one victim had their throat cut and the two others suffered stab wounds. 

Jean-Francois Ricard, France's chief anti-terrorist prosecutor, said on Thursday a 55-year-old died after deep cuts to his throat, while a 60 year-old woman suffered "a very deep throat slitting, like a decapitation". 

A 44-year-old woman was stabbed and fled to a nearby cafe where she raised the alarm before dying, Mr Ricard said.

 He said the suspected attacker was a young Tunisian who had arrived in Europe on Lampedusa in mid-September, and had come to Nice by train early on the morning of the attack.

People pay tribute at night in front of Notre Dame Basilica on October 29, 2020 in Nice, France
People pay tribute at night in front of Notre Dame Basilica on October 29, 2020 in Nice, France (Getty Images)

The suspect — named by French and Tunisian law enforcement sources as 21-year-old Brahim Aouissaoui — was shot by officers who detained him at the scene and was taken to hospital. 

A 47-year-old man has been taken into custody on suspicion of having been in contact with the perpetrator.

Speaking outside the church on Thursday, Emmanuel Macron said France had been subject to an Islamist terrorist attack, and thousands more soldiers would be deployed to protect important French sites, such as places of worship and schools.

 The French president said the country had been attacked “over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief".

He added: "And I say it with great clarity again today: we will not give any ground."

Thursday’s attack came just two weeks after the beheading of Samuel Paty  — who had used cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a civics class — outside a school near Paris, and around one month after a stabbing outside the old offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

Additional reporting by Reuters

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