The Latest: EU leaders condemn deadly French church attack

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on a knife attack in Nice, France, (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

The European Union’s top officials have strongly condemned the knife attack in Nice and expressed their support to France, a founding member of the 27-nation bloc.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU’s executive arm, said the whole of Europe stands behind France, “determined in the face of barbarism and fanaticism.”

EU Council president Charles Michel, who chairs the meetings of the EU’s 27 leaders, expressed his “solidarity with France and the French” in a message posted on Twitter.

“My thoughts are with the victims of the heinous attack on Nice and their loved ones. All of Europe is with you,” Michel wrote.

EU leaders were expected to meet later Thursday during a video conference. The Elysee press service said French President Emmanuel Macron was still planning to attend the meeting despite a planned trip to Nice in the afternoon.

2:30 p.m.

The energy-rich country of Qatar has offered its “strong condemnation and denunciation” of the attack in France.

The country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that it wanted to reiterate “Qatar’s firm position on rejecting violence and terrorism, regardless of the motives and reason.”

Many Muslims are marking Thursday as the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

A top Emirati diplomat, Anwar Gargash, has tweeted noting the Prophet’s birthday and saying that “we affirm that the speech of violence and extremism does not represent us.”

2:10 p.m.

Turkey has condemned the attack in Notre Dame Basilica in Nice amid heightened diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of France against terror and violence,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said, while strongly condemning the attack.

Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted in Turkish and French, expressing his condolences. “We will fight all kinds of terror and extremism with determination and in solidarity,” he said.

Relations between Turkey and France have been tense in recent months over Syria, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean. They hit a new low after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday accused his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron of Islamophobia and questioned his mental health, prompting Paris to recall its ambassador to Turkey for consultations.

Erdogan’s criticism came after French President Emmanuel Macron’s firm stance against Islamism following the beheading of a teacher who showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad for a class lesson on free speech.

1:55 p.m.

Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod has condemned the deadly attack at the Notre Dame Basilica in Nice and said on Twitter that “Denmark stands shoulder to shoulder with our French friends and allies.”

The Foreign Ministry quickly warned on Twitter that Danes in Nice should “avoid the area around the church” and follow local authorities’ news updates.

Across the Baltic Sea, Lithuanian Foreign Minister wrote on Twitter in French that “terrorism will never win over European values and our unity.”

1:50 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has expressed solidarity with France in a tweet sent in French and Dutch following the Nice church attack.

“For the second time in a short time, France is startled by a gruesome act of terrorism, this time in Nice. Our thoughts go out to the next of kin. And we say to the French people: you are not alone in the fight against extremism. The Netherlands is next to you,” Rutte tweeted.

1:47 p.m.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is “appalled” by the “barbaric attack” at the Notre Dame Basilica in Nice.

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the U.K. stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance,” Johnson said in a tweet sent in both French and English.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the U.K. “stands with France today in sorrow, shock and solidarity.”

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their families and we offer every support to the French people in pursuing those responsible for this appalling attack,” he said in a statement.

1:45 p.m.

Officials across the political spectrum in Germany have condemned the attack in the southern French city of Nice, with some calling for a solidarity rally outside the French embassy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “deeply shaken by the terrible murders in a church in Nice,” adding that her thoughts were with the relatives and those injured.

She added: “The French nation has Germany’s solidarity in these difficult hours.”

An attacker armed with a knife killed three people in the southern French coastal city Thursday.

German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said in a statement that she was “shocked at the news of another terrible crime in France” and expressed her sympathy to the victims.

She added that if the attack is confirmed to be an Islamist terror attack, then it would be “an attack on our way of life and our core values.”

Social Democratic lawmaker Konstantin Kuhle called for people to gather for a minute’s silence later Thursday to commemorate recent victims of attacks in Paris, Dresden and Nice.

His call was backed by Berlin state official Sawsan Chebli, who encouraged fellow Muslims to participate and send a signal against what she described as “those Islamist monsters.”

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1:40 p.m.

France’s prime minister says the country is going on emergency alert after the killings of three people at Nice’s Notre Dame Basilica.

A man armed with a knife attacked two women and a man at the church Thursday morning, before he was shot by police. As he lay wounded, the Nice mayor said the attacker repeated “Allah Akbar” over and over. French authorities have opened a terrorism investigation.

Prime Minister Jean Castex told French lawmakers that the country would raise its alert level to “emergency” in response to the attack, which comes during high tensions over the republication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

The announcement came hours before France was to go into a one-month coronavirus lockdown.

Thursday’s attack was the third since a terrorism trial opened in the January 2015 attacks against Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

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1:30 p.m.

Pope Francis is praying for the victims of the knife attack at a Roman Catholic basilica in the southern French city of Nice and for an end to all “terrorist” violence.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni says Francis was informed about Thursday’s attack at the Notre Dame Basilica and expressed his solidarity with the Catholic community in France.

In a statement, Bruni said the attack “sowed death in a place of love and consolation.”

He said Francis was praying for an end to such violence and “for people to look at each other again as brothers and sisters and not as enemies.”

An attacker armed with a knife killed three people. It was the third such attack in recent weeks following furor over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

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11:20 a.m.

An attacker armed with a knife has killed three people at a church in the southern French city of Nice.

It was the third attack in two months in France amid a growing furor over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were republished by the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Other confrontations and attacks were reported Thursday in the southern city of Avignon and in the Saudi city of Jiddah, but it was not immediately clear if they were linked to the attack in Nice.

Thursday’s assailant in Nice was wounded by police and hospitalized after the killings at the Notre Dame Basilica, less than a kilometer (half-mile) from the site in 2016 where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd, killing dozens of people.

Categories: International News