Tunisia opens investigation into France terror attack suspect

WION Web Team Paris, France Oct 30, 2020, 06.28 AM(IST) Oct 30, 2020, 06.34 AM(IST)

France terror attack Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The knife-wielding Tunisian national shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday before being shot and taken away by police.

Tunisia has opened an investigation after reports that the suspect in the Nice attack is its national, the spokesman for a specialised counter-militancy court said on Thursday.

"The public prosecutor of the anti-terrorism court has opened a forensic investigation into the suspicion that a Tunisian committed a terrorist operation abroad," Mohsen Dali said.

The knife-wielding Tunisian national shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) beheaded a woman and killed two other people in a church in the French city of Nice on Thursday before being shot and taken away by police.

Chief anti-terrorist prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said the suspect in Thursday's attack was a Tunisian man born in 1999 who had arrived in Europe on September 20 in Lampedusa, the Italian island off Tunisia that is the main landing point for migrants from Africa.

A Tunisian security source and a French police source named the suspect as Brahim Aouissaoui.

Ricard told a news conference in Nice that the man had entered the city by train early on Thursday morning and made his way to the church, where he stabbed and killed the 55-year-old sexton and beheaded a 60-year-old woman.

He also stabbed a 44-year-old woman who fled to a nearby cafe where she raised the alarm before dying, Ricard said. Police then arrived and confronted the attacker, still shouting "Allahu Akbar", and shot and wounded him.

The attack came just under two weeks after a middle-school teacher in a Paris suburb was beheaded by an 18-year-old attacker who was apparently incensed by the teacher showing a carton of the Prophet Mohammad in class.

To this end, President Emmanuel Macron said France would deploy thousands more soldiers to protect important sites such as places of worship and schools, as the country's security alert was raised to its highest level.

The suspect is in hospital in critical condition.

Tunisia's specialised counter-militancy court spokesman Mohsen Dali told Reuters that Aouissaoui was not listed by police there as a suspected militant.

Thursday's attack, on the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, came at a time of growing Muslim anger at France's defence of the right to publish the cartoons, and protesters have denounced France in street rallies in several Muslim-majority countries.

US President Donald Trump voiced sympathy for the people of France after the attack. "America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight. These Radical Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or otherwise can long put up with it!" Trump said in a Twitter post.

Condemnations of the attack also came from Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week slammed Macron and France over displays of the Prophet Mohammad.

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