France on high alert: Minister warns of more attacks after Nice slaughter

France's Interior Minister said more militant attacks on its soil were likely on Friday and the country was engaged in a war against Islamist ideology after a second deadly knife attack in two weeks in its cities.

A day after an assailant shouting 'Allahu Akbar' (God is Greatest) decapitated a woman and killed two other people in a church in Nice, Minister Gerald Damarnin was speaking.

The man was shot by police and is in a hospital in critical condition now.

"We're at war with an enemy, both inside and outside," Damarnin told RTL radio. "We need to understand that other events have occurred and will occur, such as these awful attacks."

Thousands of soldiers have been deployed by President Emmanuel Macron to protect important sites such as places of worship and schools and France's security alert is at its highest level.

On the birthday of the Prophet Mohammad, Thursday's attack took place at a time of swelling Muslim anger across the globe against France's defense of the right to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet. In street rallies in several Muslim-majority countries, protesters who deem the cartoons an insult to the Prophet Mohammad have denounced France.

In Bangladesh on Friday, tens of thousands of Muslims protested, chanting slogans such as "Boycott French products" and carrying banners calling Macron "the greatest terrorist in the world" as they marched in the streets of Dhaka, the capital.

Suspected attacker from Tunisia

The chief anti-terrorist prosecutor of France said that the man suspected of carrying out the Nice attack was a Tunisian born in 1999 who arrived in Europe on Sept. 20 in Lampedusa, the main landing point for migrants from Africa, the Italian island off Tunisia.

The suspect was named as Brahim Aouissaoui by a Tunisian security source and a French police source.

A judicial source said on Friday that on Thursday evening, a 47-year-old man was taken into custody on suspicion of being in contact with the perpetrator of the attack.

The Nice attack occurred just under two weeks after an 18-year-old Chechen, who was apparently incensed by the teacher showing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in class, was decapitated by Samuel Paty, a school teacher in a suburb of Paris.

Also, in recent years, it was the second militant attack in Nice. A militant drove a truck through a seafront crowd celebrating Bastille Day in July 2016, killing 86 individuals.

On Friday morning, people gathered in front of the Notre-Dame church to lay flowers and light candles. Heart-shaped balloons were attached by Frederic Lefevre to the church gate.

Lefevre, 50, who was wearing a French national rugby shirt, said, "I knew him very well, the person killed in the church."

I am from Nice, and once again, this is a tragedy. We are a country that is free. Let's love liberty, which is a message to the world. Life ought to be spiritual. No god is supposed to kill,' he said. Another resident of Nice, Marc Mercier, 71, said: "It was a day for people who were not asking for it." That is appalling.

"On Thursday, speaking outside the church, Macron said that France had been attacked" over our values, over our desire for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief ... And I say it again today with great clarity: we will not give any ground.

However, demonstrators accused Macron of promoting Islamophobia at the protest in Dhaka.

"He doesn't know Islam's power. In vain, the Muslim world won't let this go. We shall rise up and stand against him in solidarity,' said one, Akramul Haq.

Publish : 2020-10-30 18:05:00

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