FRANCE deployed more than 4,000 troops on the streets of France hours after an Islamic terror attack at the Notre Dame basilica that left three people dead.
The killings put France on its highest level of alert and come at a time of extreme tension over the republication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
A man armed with a knife attacked two women and a man at the church on Thursday morning before he was shot by police.
As he lay wounded, Nice’s mayor said the attacker repeated “Allah Akbar!” over and over. French authorities have opened a terrorism investigation.
Prime Minister Jean Castex told French lawmakers that the country would raise its alert level to “emergency” in response to the attack. Mr Macron later travelled to Nice to meet police officers in the city.
“Very clearly, it is France which is under attack,” Mr Macron said as he stood before the church.
He added that all of France offered its support to Catholics “so that their religion can be exercised freely in our country. So that every religion can be practised”.
France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor says the man who killed three people in a Nice church was a Tunisian aged about 20 who entered the country from Italy.
Jean-Francois Ricard told a press conference that the man arrived in Italy by reaching the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa on September 20, and travelled to Paris on October 9.
The travel information came from a document on the man from the Italian Red Cross, Mr Ricard said. The attacker was seriously wounded by police and is being treated in a hospital.
The attack in Mediterranean city of Nice was the third in two months in France that authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher.
It comes during a growing anger over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed that were republished in recent months by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo — renewing debate in France and the Muslim world over the depictions that Muslims consider offensive but are protected by French free speech laws.
Mr Ricard detailed the gruesome scene encountered inside the Nice basilica where a man and woman were killed by the attacker. The third victim, a 44-year-old woman who managed to flee, died at a nearby restaurant.
A 60-year-old woman whose body was found at the entry of the church, suffered “a very deep throat slitting, like a decapitation”, Mr Ricard said.
The 55-year-old man also died after deep cuts to his throat, the prosecutor added.
An investigation was opened for murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise, a common term for such crimes.
The prosecutor said the attacker, who was born in 1999, was not the radar of intelligence agencies as a potential threat.
Additional Reporting by PA Media