A WOMAN and a man have been beheaded and another woman stabbed to death in a suspected terror attack at a church in France.
Several people were reportedly stabbed at Notre Dame church in Nice, south of France.
Armed police are reported to have swooped on the scene before shooting and arresting the suspect, who is believed to be a 21-year-old Tunisian national who recently entered France via Italy.
Actu17 reports the woman was beheaded and a man had his throat cut outside the church before the suspect was shot, citing unnamed sources.
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi tweeted: "I confirm that everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Notre-Dame Basilica."
Police also shot dead a man in Avignon in a separate incident, French radio station Europe 1 reported. It is believed the man had threatened people in the street with a knife while shouting “Allahu Akbar”.
Follow our France terror attack live blog for all the latest updates…
HEAD OF LEAGUE PARTY ACCUSED GOV OF BEING LAX ON IMMIGRATION
Matteo Salvini, the head of the League party, accused the government of being too lax on immigration controls and called for the resignation of the interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese.
“If it is confirmed that the attacker landed on Lampedusa in September, then went to Bari and then fled, then we will ask for the resignation of the interior minister,” said Mr Salvini, who was interior minister and deputy prime minister until last summer, when his coalition government collapsed.
SUSPECT WAS IN ITALY UNTIL END OF SEPTEMBER
The suspect, named Brahim Aouissaoui, was in Italy in September after arriving on a small Island south of Sicily.
He was placed in quarantine on board the ship the Rhapsody and after two weeks he was released and told to leave Italy.
But instead he travelled to the southern city of Bari, in the region of Puglia before making his way into France in early October.
POLICE PATROL STREET NEAR CHURCH
Police are continuing to patrol a street near the church in Nice where the attack took place this morning.
The area is still cordoned off.
CHURCH ATTACKER BELIEVED TO BE 21-YEAR-OLD TUNISIAN
The suspect who carried out the attack in Nice this morning is believed to be a 21-year-old Tunisian national, a police source told Reuters.
The man had recently entered France via Italy, the source said.
His identity is still being checked by law enforcement, the source added.
PREVIOUS TERROR ATTACK IN NICE
Nice experienced another terror attack in 2016, when a truck driver mowed down night-time crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the seafront.
He killed at least 84 people and injured more, many of them small children.
Officers managed to shoot and kill the driver around five minutes after the attack started.
POPE FRANCIS CONDEMNS 'SAVAGE' ATTACK
Pope Francis on Thursday condemned the “savage” attack that killed three people at a French Church, the Vatican said.
A message sent in the pope's name to the bishop of Nice said the pontiff was united in prayer with the families and shared their grief.
VALUES OF FREEDOM
Emmanuel Macron said France is “under attack” because of its “values of freedom and” and its “desire not to yield to terror”.
As he spoke following the attack in Nice, the French President announced new measures to protect places of worship, as well as schools in France.
Forensic officers have been seen standing in front of the church where the attack took place this morning.
The area has been cordoned off by police and people have been asked to stay away.
MUSLIMS HAVE 'RIGHT TO PUNISH' FRENCH, SAYS MALAYSIA'S MAHATHIR
Malaysia's former premier Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday Muslims have a right to “kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past” but he did not approve of the killing of a French teacher over his use of cartoons of the Prophet.
In a blog post Mahathir, 95, a respected leader in the Muslim world, said he believed in freedom of expression but that it should not be used to insult others.
“Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past. But by and large the Muslims have not applied the 'eye for an eye' law. Muslims don't. The French shouldn't,” Mahathir said in a blog post, which he also posted on Twitter.
“Since you have blamed all Muslims and the Muslims' religion for what was done by one angry person, the Muslims have a right to punish the French,” he said.
Twitter said the message violated its rules about glorifying violence, but it determined that it may be in the public's interest for the post to remain.
Police are blocking the access to the church where the attack took place earlier today in Nice.
STEPPING UP DEPLOYMENT OF SOLDIERS
French President Emmanuel Macron said that he would be stepping up the deployment of soldiers to protect key French sites, such as places of worship and schools, following the fatal knife attack in Nice earlier in the day.
Pictured: Macron at the Notre Dame church in Nice
WHO HAS CONDEMNED THE ATTACK SO FAR?
Condemnations of the attack came from Britain, the European Commission, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, whose President Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week slammed Macron and France over displays of the Prophet Mohammad.
Turkish Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun said Islam could not be used in the name of terrorism, adding: “We call on the French leadership to avoid further inflammatory rhetoric against Muslims and focus, instead, on finding the perpetrators of this and other acts of violence.”
'FRANCE IS UNDER ATTACK'
Speaking at the scene of the attack in Nice, Macron said: “France is under attack.”
He also referred to the attach on the French consulate in Saudi Arabia that also took place today.
BREAKING: MAN ARRESTED NEAR PARIS CHURCH AFTER 'TELLING DAD HE WANTED TO COPY NICE'
A man allegedly in possession of a knife has been arrested near a Paris church after telling his dad he wanted to 'copy' the Nice terror attack which left three people dead, according to reports.
Cops told Le Parisien that a man had been arrested at around 1pm in the district of Sartrouville.
The father of the suspect warned police who rushed to the scene, the paper reported.
A cordon remains in place at the Saint-Martin Church, which is located on Avenue Robert-Schuman in the Plateau district.
Police have searched the suspect's car but no explosives have been detected, Le Parisien report.
More on the story here
POLICE ARRIVED WITHIN 30 SECONDS
A man working in a local bakery, who gave his name as David, said the police arrived on the scene within 30 seconds, while he went back inside his bakery and pulled down the blinds.
The police arrived at 09.10 am, according to a police spokesman, 10 minutes after the attack began.
'I THOUGHT IT WAS A JOKE'
At some point during the attack inside the church, someone ran to a bakery next to the church, and asked staff to call the police.
“I thought it was a joke, I didn't believe it,” said one of the staff in the bakery, who spoke to French broadcaster BFMTV and gave his name as David.
But when the person insisted the police should be called, David said he walked the short distance to the corner of Rue d'Italie and Avenue Jean Medecin, where last year local authorities installed an intercom in front of the church that connects directly to the municipal police.
David said he pressed the button on the intercom, and summoned the police. The mayor, Estrosi, who had attended last year's unveiling of the intercom, said this was how police were first alerted to the attack.
CHURCH SEXTON HAD THROAT SLIT WHILE PREPARING FOR MASS
The church sexton had his throat slit while preparing for the mass at the Notre Dame church in the French city of Nice, Reuters reports.
At around 9am, a man armed with a knife entered the church and cut the throat of the sexton, partially beheaded an elderly woman, and badly wounded a third woman, according to a police source.
The sexton and the elderly woman died on the spot, the third woman managed to make it out of the church into a nearby cafe, but she died from her wounds, Nice mayor Christian Estrosi told reporters at the scene.
None of the victims has so far been named.
MACRON WITH ESTROSI AT SCENE OF ATTACK
French President Emmanuel Macron was pictured with Nice mayor Christian Estrosi at the scene of the attack.
SAUDI ARABIA CONDEMNS ATTACK IN NICE
Saudi Arabia “strongly condemns” the attack on Thursday at a church in Nice, southern France, the kingdom's foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The kingdom categorically rejects such extremist acts, which contravene all religions …, while stressing the importance of avoiding all practices which generate hatred, violence and extremism,” said the statement published by the state news agency SPA.
MACRON IN NICE
Emmanuel Macron has visited the scene of the attack in Nice.
Earlier today, the city's mayor announced the French president would visit following the incident.
'FIRM' RESPONSE TO NICE ATTACKS – FRENCH PM
The French Prime Minister, Jean Castex has said the government's response to the Nice attack is going to be be “firm, implacable, and immediate”.
He also confirmed that the country has raised its security alert status to “emergency” following the attacks.
MURDER INQUIRY OPENED AFTER NICE ATTACK
France's national anti-terror prosecutors have said they have opened a murder inquiry after a the Nice attack in which a man killed three people at a basilica in Central Nice.
The city's mayor, Christian Estrosi said the suspect kept shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greater) while he was being detained.
POLICE DOG HANDLERS INVOLVED IN NICE INVESTIGATIONS
A police dog handler together with officers search a car parked near the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice after the attack today.
FRANCE RAISES ALERT STATUS
France has raised its alert status to “terror attack emergency” following the attacks which resulted in the death of three people.
RAAB 'SHOCKED' BY NICE ATTACK
Dominic Raab has issued a statement about the attack in Nice.
The Foreign Secretary tweeted: “I am shocked by the horrifying attack in Nice today. Our thought are with the victims and their families.
“The UK stands in complete solidarity with our French friends against terrorism and all those who try to intimidate us through such despicable action.”