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3 killed in knife attack at French church

3 killed in knife attack at French church
© Getty Images

Three people were killed during a knife attack at a church in Nice, France, on Thursday. 

Authorities said the attacker was wounded and taken into custody after a confrontation with police outside the Notre Dame Church, less than a mile from the location of a 2016 truck attack that left dozens of people dead, according to The Associated Press.

Local authorities said terrorism is suspected in the knife attack.

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“He cried ‘Allah Akbar!’ over and over, even after he was injured,” Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said, referring to the attacker, the AP reported. “The meaning of his gesture left no doubt.”

Police said one elderly victim was "nearly beheaded," according to the BBC. Two people were attacked inside the church and a third person was mortally wounded just outside the building.

Police have the area locked down as an investigation continues, and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronTrump addresses virtual G-20 summit, heads out before session on pandemic G-20 leaders stress importance of united response to coronavirus pandemic Czech president says Trump should quit after election loss and 'not be embarrassing' MORE is reportedly headed to Nice on Thursday. 

France's Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced he would lead a crisis meeting in the wake of the attack, CNN reported.

Eric Ciotti, a lawmaker who represents the city, said the whole country is in a state of shock.

"Like a symbol, the Notre Dame basilica is still ringing. It is our country and its history that are hit today in Nice," he tweeted. "Islamist barbarism will never silence us!"

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The French Council of the Muslim Faith reportedly condemned the attacks on Thursday.

"As a sign of mourning & solidarity with victims and their loved ones, I call on all Muslims in France to cancel all the celebrations of the holiday of Mawlid," the organization said.

The attack comes amid increased tensions between France and Turkey. Turkish officials on Wednesday criticized French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo after it depicted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a cartoon and accused him of fueling "the seeds of hatred and animosity."

Erdoğan earlier this week criticized Macron's stance after a school teacher was beheaded on Oct. 16 after showing his students cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammed published in Charlie Hebdo five years ago.

Anti-France protests have been held in Turkey and other Muslim countries.

--Updated at 7:54 a.m.