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When Catholic churchgoers entered the Basilica Notre-Dame in the Riviera city of Nice on Thursday morning, it was to say quiet final prayers before France descended into a month-long lockdown三级成人视频 to stem its raging coronavirus outbreak.

Instead, in the Neo-Gothic church, Nice’s largest, screams erupted at 8.30am as a 21-year-old Tunisian brandishing a large knife jumped out of the shadows and pounced on a worshipper aged 60, partially beheading her.

The suspect, identified as Brahim Aoussaoui,三级成人视频 had arrived in Nice by train from Paris two hours earlier, at 6.47am, changing clothes before walking 400 metres to the church at 8.13am, according to Paris prosecutor Jean-François Ricard.

Leaving his first victim with a "very deep throat wound, basically a decapitation",  he turned on Vincent Loquès, 55, the church warden and a father of two girls, stabbing him and slitting his throat.

He then launched a frenzied assault on a woman aged 44, who managed to run across the road to a halal hamburger outlet at 8.47am, dying of her wounds shortly afterwards.

The Brazilian foreign ministry announced that the  44-year-old was a Brazilian mother of three, living in France. "Tell my children I love them," she managed to say before her death, according to a report by French cable channel BFM TV.

A relative of the sacristan victim of a knife attack cries in front of the Basilica Notre-Dame de Nice Credit: VALERY HACHE /AFP

三级成人视频"I heard people screaming," said Jacques Dalmasso, who lives in the area and knew Mr Loquès. "We used to drink coffee in the morning together at the boulangerie," he said.

三级成人视频Mr Dalmasso told The Telegraph: "I was standing at the cash dispenser. I left my credit card in the machine and ran. I saw a woman run out of the cathedral, around 40. She came out of a door and hid in the Isla Burger restaurant.

三级成人视频Laila, the boulangerie manager, said: "This isn't the Nice we know. I am very angry. We are no longer safe. I feel like we're living a nightmare."

Daniel Conilh, a 32-year-old waiter at the Grand Cafe de Lyon, a block from the church, said "shots were fired and everybody took off running" as national and municipal police stormed the building and shot the suspect, critically injuring him.

三级成人视频"A woman came in straight from the church and said: 'Run, run, someone has been stabbing people,'" he said.

三级成人视频As sirens wailed, a grim-faced Christian Estrosi, Nice's mayor, said there could be no doubt that this was once again the work of Islamist extremism in a city that had already "paid a very high price" from terrorism.

Nice is still scarred from the 2016 attack in which a terrorist ploughed his truck into Bastille Day crowds at the Promenade des Anglais, killing 86.

三级成人视频The assailant "didn't stop shouting Allahu Akbar, even under medication," said Mr Estrosi. The suspect was in a critical but stable condition in Nice's Pasteur hospital on Thursday night, where police had to bar a group of around 40 individuals bent on lynching him.

三级成人视频A copy of the Koran belonging to the suspect, two telephones and a bag containing two other knives were found in the church.

三级成人视频Aoussaoui had told police he had arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he was placed in virus quarantine by authorities before being released with an order to quit Italian territory, on September 20. He arrived in Paris on October 9.

三级成人视频"Enough is enough," said Mr Estrosi. "It is time now that France rid itself of the rules of peace to annihilate the scourge of Islamo-fascism."

三级成人视频But the day of terror was far from over.

In a second attack, which took place two hours later, an armed man threatened people on the streets of Avignon, 120 miles from Nice, before he was fatally shot by police. Police believe he was a far-Right extremist.

三级成人视频Elsewhere, a security guard was stabbed and wounded outside the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

In France, two other men were arrested. One was seized while carrying a knife near a church in Sartrouville, a Paris suburb, after his father reported that he was about to carry out a Nice-style attack. A second man, of Afghan origin and "known to intelligence services", was arrested carrying a long blade as he tried to board a train in Lyon.

"France is very clearly under attack," said President Emmanuel Macron.

三级成人视频Speaking from the scene, Mr Macron said France had been targeted "over our values, for our taste for freedom, for the ability on our soil to have freedom of belief".

三级成人视频"And I say it with lots of clarity again today – we will not give any ground," he said.

Emmanuel Macron and Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi meet police officers following the knife attack in Nice Credit: Eric Gaillard /Reuters

France's anti-terror prosecutor has launched an investigation into murder and attempted murder.

This is not the first time a French church has been the target of terror. In July 2016, two Islamists slit the throat of 85-year-old priest Jacques Hamel三级成人视频 at a Mass at a Catholic church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. Islamic State later claimed responsibility.

Mr Macron expressed special condolences to Catholics in France, where the Church condemned what it called "an unspeakable attack" and warned: "Christians must not become symbols to be slaughtered".

French MPs, meanwhile, temporarily suspended a debate on the new national lockdown三级成人视频 to observe a moment's silence in remembrance of those killed in the attack. Bells tolled in churches around France in tribute to the victims.

Given the ongoing threat, France raised its terror alert to maximum level and Mr Macron announced that it would more than double the number of soldiers patrolling the streets from 3,000 to 7,000 – levels not seen since the 2015 Paris attacks.

They will protect key sites such as places of worship and schools.

Soldiers patrol the area around the Basilica Notre-Dame in Nice after France's terror alert was raised to its highest level Credit: Eric Gaillard /Reuters 

The Islamist attacks follow fury across the Muslim world at President Macron's reaction to the murder of a schoolteacher two weeks ago. History teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded outside his school in a Paris suburb after he showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his class in a lesson on free speech.

三级成人视频The assailant, an 18-year-old Chechen named Abdullakh Anzorov, apparently acted after some angry parents denounced the teacher on social media.

Mr Macron insisted that France's cherished tradition of freedom of expression, including mocking religion, must be protected, and promised a crackdown on Islamist extremism including closing mosques and organisations accused of fomenting radicalism and violence.

That sparked condemnation from the leaders of several Muslim-majority nations, notably the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who questioned Mr Macron's mental health and likened treatment of Muslims in France to Jews under Nazism.

This time, Turkey denounced the Nice attack and expressed "solidarity" with France but added: "We call on the French leadership to avoid further inflammatory rhetoric against Muslims and focus, instead, on finding the perpetrators of this and other acts of violence."

The French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday proffered "a message of peace to the Muslim world," saying France was "the country of tolerance". "Do not listen to the voices that want to stoke distrust," he said in parliament.

Condemnations of the attack poured in from elsewhere.

Boris Johnson said: "Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance."

三级成人视频Donald Trump tweeted: "Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight."

Pope Francis said: "I pray for the victims, for their families and for the beloved French people, so that they can react to evil with good."

France has been on high alert since the January 2015 massacre at the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo三级成人视频, which marked the beginning of a wave of jihadist attacks that have killed more than 250 people.

Copies of the new edition of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with a caricature of Turkish President Erdogan on its front page are seen at a newspaper kiosk in Paris Credit: Mohammed Badra/EPA

Tensions had already been high since the trial opened last month for 14 suspected accomplices in that attack.

The paper marked the start of the court proceedings by republishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that angered millions of Muslims worldwide.

三级成人视频Just days later, an 18-year-old man from Pakistan seriously injured two people with a meat cleaver outside Charlie Hebdo's former offices in Paris.

三级成人视频Abdallah Zekri, the director general of the French Council of Muslim Worship (CFCM), said: "I can only denounce as strongly as possible this act of cowardice against the innocent."

He called on French Muslims to cancel festivities to mark the Mawlid, or the Prophet's Birthday, which ends Thursday, "in solidarity with the victims and their loved ones".

Additional reporting by Abdelatif Azdine in Nice