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Officials arrest new suspect in France church attack, security alert heightened

Officials arrest new suspect in France church attack, security alert heightened
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French officials had a second suspect in custody on Friday in connection with the Thursday knife attack at a church in Nice that left three people dead.

According to The Associated Press, a judicial official not authorized to be named publicly said the second suspect is a 47-year-old man believed to have been in contact with the attacker the night before the incident.

Police had already arrested the suspected attacker, whom the AP named as Ibrahim Issaoui, after police wounded him in a confrontation outside Nice's Notre Dame Church, less than a mile from the location of a 2016 truck attack that killed dozens. 

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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 meaning of his gesture left no doubt.”

The AP reported that the victims of Thursday’s attack, which elevated the country to its highest security alert, included 55-year-old Vincent Loques, a father of two who was in charge of the church’s holy objects, according to local broadcaster France-Bleu. 

The local outlet also reported that another victim was a 44-year-old mother of three from Brazil named Simone who had studied cooking in Nice and helped underprivileged communities. 

French prosecutor Jean-Francois Ricard said in a press conference Thursday that Issaoui was born in Tunisia, arrived in Italy on Sept. 20 and went to Paris on Oct. 9, according to the AP. 

He reportedly had a copy of the Quran and a bag with two unused knives. Another bag with his belongings also had two knives. 

The AP reported Friday that Issaoui received a notice that he was being expelled from Italy for illegal entry and was given seven days to leave. 

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Italy’s interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, confirmed Friday that the suspect was ordered to leave Italy on Oct. 9. 

According to the AP, Lamorgese did not provide any additional details on possible actions taken to ensure Issaoui complied with the order but added that he was not flagged by either Tunisian authorities nor by intelligence agencies.

Muslims continued to hold anti-France demonstrations across the Middle East on Friday, the AP reported, condemning the sharing of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which was tied to the Oct. 16 beheading of a French middle school teacher who showed his class cartoons in a lesson on free speech. 

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Biden's European trip Biden says Queen Elizabeth II reminded him of his mother Biden concludes first G-7 as president declaring 'America is back at the table' MORE announced he would be sending 7,000 troops to protect schools and religious sites, more than double the 3,000 currently deployed.