A brave mum who was fatally stabbed during an attack at a church in France told medics "tell my children I love them".

The 44-year-old woman - one of three worshippers murdered during Mass - was able to flee Notre Dame basilica in Nice before dying at a nearby restaurant.

The other two victims were reportedly beheaded by the attacker's 12-inch blade.

Police described the scene as “a vision of horror”, and President Emmanuel Macron said France is “under attack”.

Armed officers cornered the suspect near the Nice church and shot him in the shoulder.

French police officers secure the street near the entrance of the Notre Dame Basilica church

He shouted “Allahu akbar” – Arabic for “God is greater” – as paramedics treated him before he was taken to hospital.

Police sources named the suspect as Brahim Aoussaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian who had arrived in Europe just weeks ago.

Official papers show he had been processed through the Italian Red Cross.

A security officer secures the area
A relative of the sacristan victim of a knife attack cries

France was put on its highest alert – terror attack emergency – amid yesterday’s stabbings and other incidents.

A man making a Nazi salute and waving a gun at passers-by was shot dead by officers in Avignon.

Officers said he was in the Identitarian movement, which is far-right and anti-Muslim.

Two men were held in Paris and Lyon, both arrests were said to be terror-related.

And a security guard was stabbed at the French consulate in Saudi Arabia. After arriving in Nice, Mr Macron said: “Once again, our country has been hit by an Islamist terrorist attack.

“Once again this morning it was three of our compatriots who fell in this basilica. It is France that is under attack. We will not give in to any spirit of terror.”

Indian Muslims hold placards as they protest against French President Macron

The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, said: “It’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islam-fascism from our territory.”

Mr Estrosi said the victims were killed in a “horrible way”.

He added: “Nice has paid too heavy a price in the same way as our country in recent years.”

Parishioners react near church

One of the murdered worshippers was a 70-year-old woman who was killed while praying near the font.

Another victim was the churchwarden, dad-of-two Vincent Loquès, 54.

Other parishioners were also stabbed.

It is four years since 86 people were killed on Bastille Day in Nice when they were mowed down by a terrorist driving a lorry.

One of three people stabbed to death in Nice has been named as Vincent Loquès
A French policeman pushes bystanders back off the street

Teacher Samuel Paty, 47, was beheaded by a terrorist in a Paris street two weeks ago for showing pupils a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad.

The mayor of Nice said yesterday’s atrocity seemed to be a “copycat” attack.

A witness called David, who runs a restaurant opposite the church, said he had alerted police.

French policemen stand guard

He added: “I was selling croissants when a man came in and said ‘Sir, there is a woman decapitated in the church’. I’m still shaking.

“I went to the church and saw the municipal police and called to them. They came quickly.”

Another witness said: “I saw a guy come out like crazy from the church, running. Within 30 seconds, between four and six city policemen chased him. He ran off, with the police behind him, to the side of the church. There is a garden behind. He walked in. I heard at least four shots. I hid.”

A woman kneels by a police car as she cries in the streets

The bomb squad detonated suspicious items found in the church on the Cote d’Azur.

Boris Johnson said: “I am appalled to hear the news of a barbaric attack.

“The UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance.”

The Catholic Church called the attacks “unspeakable”, adding: “Christians must not become a symbol to be cut down.”

The French Muslim Council urged Muslims to cancel Mawlid celebrations – marking the birth of Muhammad – to show solidarity with the bereaved families.

Prosecutors are probing the three murders and multiple attempted murders.

The attacks come amid fury across the Islamic world – including protests on the streets of Bhopal in India – at President Macron for defending cartoons of Muhammad which are blasphemous to Muslims.