World

On day of terror, France raises security alert level to maximum

PARIS: France raised its alert to the highest level nationally yesterday after the attack in the Notre Dame church in Nice.

It is the third apparent terrorist attack in just over a month in France.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said yesterday's attack was "as cowardly as it is barbaric" and told parliament he had decided to raise France's Vigipirate security alert system to the highest "attack emergency" level.

Meanwhile, French police shot dead a man in Montfavet, near the city of Avignon in southern France, after he had earlier threatened passers-by with a handgun, police said, confirming media reports.

According to French radio station Europe 1, the man had shouted "Allahu Akbar (God is great)".

Separately, a man armed with a long knife was arrested in the south-eastern French city of Lyon yesterday as he was about to board a tram, a source close to the inquiry told AFP.

The suspect, an Afghan national in his 20s who was dressed in traditional Afghan clothes, had already been flagged to French intelligence services, the source said.

"He was carrying a 30cm knife and seemed ready to take action," Mr Pierre Oliver, the mayor of Lyon's Second Arrondissement, said.

The arrest took place near the Perrache train station in the historic heart of the city, not far from where a parcel bomb wounded 14 on a busy pedestrian street in May 2019.

In Saudi Arabia, a Saudi national was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a "sharp tool" at the French consulate yesterday, local police said.

A statement from the police said the guard suffered "minor injuries" and that "legal action" was being taken against the perpetrator.

The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an "attack by knife which targeted a guard", adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger.

"The French Embassy strongly condemns this attack against a diplomatic outpost which nothing could justify," it said in a statement.

France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of school teacher Samuel Paty by a man of Chechen origin.

The attacker had said he wanted to punish the teacher for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson. - REUTERS, AFP

WORLD