Emmanuel Macron, and Nice mayor Christian Estrosi FRance knife attack
French President Emmanuel Macron, and Nice mayor Christian Estrosi , right, meet police officers after a knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, southern France, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. Image Credit: AP

Nice: A knife attacker killed three people, cutting the throat of at least one woman, inside a church in Nice on the French Riviera on Thursday.

The brutal killings come only two weeks after a French teacher was decapitated outside his school north of Paris by an Islamist extremist, after showing his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) during a lesson on freedom of speech.

What happened?

At 9am French time (0800 GMT) a man with a knife began attacking people praying inside the Basilica of Notre-Dame in heart of the Mediterranean city.

Three people were killed including a woman who the attacker tried to decapitate in the church, according to officials.

A man was also found dead inside the church, while another woman with knife wounds who managed to escape to a nearby bar died soon afterwards.

The killer was shot and wounded by police who arrived quickly at the scene.

He was rushed to the city's Pasteur hospital.

Who are the victims?

The dead man was the church's sacristan, a 45-year-old layman, according to Canon Philippe Asso, the church's most senior cleric.

Police said earlier that several others were injured but added that the death toll is not expected to rise.

Who is the killer?

The knifeman called himself "Brahim" and said he was 25, according to a judicial source. Police have yet to officially identify him.

Is it a terror attack?

The French authorities are treating it as a terror attack, with the anti-terrorist prosecutor immediately opening an inquiry into "murder and attempted murder linked to a terrorist enterprise."