Brahim Aoussaoui (left), a 21-year-old Tunisian who arrived in Europe on a migrant boat just last month, attacked worshippers with a 12-inch blade in the Notre Dame basilica in Nice, slitting the throat of an elderly woman near the church’s holy water in a beheading attempt.
He hacked sacristan Vincent Loques (right), a 54-year-old father-of-two, to death as he prepared for the first Mass of the day, while a mother in her forties also succumbed to her injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar after telling paramedics: ‘Tell my children that I love them’.
The assailant was shot 14 times and wounded by armed police as he screamed ‘God is greatest’ in Arabic during the attack and ‘while under medication’ as he was taken to hospital, Nice’s Mayor Christian Estrosi said. Investigators found two unused knives, a Koran and two mobile phones, in addition to a bag with some personal effects. He was unknown to French security services. Mourners attended a vigil outside the basilica (inset) to pay tribute to the victims of the triple killing. The attack comes amid fury across the Islamic world at President Macron for defending satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and on the day that Sunni Muslims mark the Prophet’s birthday.