French priest seriously injured in knife attack during Mass

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A priest in the southern French city of Nice was seriously injured on Sunday in a knife attack committed by a man described as mentally disturbed, officials said.

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that, despite the severity of the wounds, the priest’s life was not in danger. A nun was also injured in the assault during morning Mass.

The attack took place at the Saint-Pierre-d’Arène church in the centre of the city, not far from the Mediterranean seafront, a police spokesperson said.

It came as France was voting in the second round of presidential elections.

The broadcaster France Info reported the perpetrator had said upon his arrest that he had wanted to kill President Emmanuel Macron on election day.

After the confused man did not find the president in the church, he attacked the priest, the report said. The nun stood in the way of the attacker, after which members of the congregation lunged at the man, and one woman hit him with a candlestick, before police arrived.

Psychological help was offered to the shocked congregants, local officials said.

Mayor Christian Estrosi said he had spoken to both victims at hospital and described the clergyman, who was stabbed several times, as being in good condition.

The perpetrator, who has no criminal record and comes from Fréjus in the south of France, carried out the stabbings with a knife, police said. He was arrested.

Mayor Christian Estrosi said he had spoken to both victims at hospital and described the clergyman, who was stabbed several times, as being in good condition.

The perpetrator, who has no criminal record and comes from Fréjus in the south of France, carried out the stabbings with a knife, police said. He was arrested.

The prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes department, Bernard Gonzalez, said that there was no indication that the man had terrorist or other extremist motives.

In October 2020, an attacker from Tunisia killed three people in a knife attack in the Notre-Dame church in Nice. The act was classified as Islamist terrorism.

dpa/scmp

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