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Three killed in church stabbing

NICE, France — A young Tunisian man armed with a knife and carrying a copy of the Quran attacked worshippers in a French church and killed three Thursday, prompting the government to raise its security alert to the maximum level hours before a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

The attack in Mediterranean city of Nice was the third in less than two months that French authorities have attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class after the images were re-published by a satirical newspaper targeted in a 2015 attack.

Thursday’s attacker was seriously wounded by police and hospitalized in life-threatening condition after the killings at the Notre Dame Basilica. The imposing edifice is located half a mile from the site where another attacker plowed a truck into a crowd on France’s national day in 2016, killing dozens.

President Emmanuel Macron said he would immediately increase the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from about 3,000 to 7,000.

France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said the suspect is a Tunisian born in 1999 who reached the Italian island of Lanpedusa, a key landing point for migrants crossing in boats from North Africa, on Sept. 20 and traveled to Paris on Oct. 9. Prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard did not specify when he arrived in Nice.

The prosecutor said the attacker was not on the radar of intelligence agencies as a potential threat.

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