At least three people have died and several others are injured after a knife attack inside the Notre-Dame church in Nice in a suspected terrorist attack.
Nice-Matin reports that a person of around 70 years old was beheaded inside the Notre-Dame basilica and another person lost their life inside the church.
The attack took place just after 9am on Thursday, October 29, just as morning mass started inside the Roman Catholic place of worship – the largest in Nice.
Earlier in the morning, gunshots were also reported in the area.
The attacker kept shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) even after he had been arrested by police, Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi told reporters.
Locals have also reported hearing explosions although these have been set off by authorities, police have confirmed.
The assailant was arrested after the Thursday morning attack and taken to a nearby hospital after being injured during his arrest, a police official said.
He was believed to be acting alone, the official added.
“Both victims were beheaded,” a police spokesman said.
The city’s mayor, Christian Estrosi, tweeted: “I am on site with the [police] who arrested the perpetrator of the attack.
“I confirm that everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice.”
French President Emmanuel Macron is now heading to Nice following the attack.
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin confirmed on Twitter he is to chair a crisis meeting following the incident.
Members of the public have been urged by police to avoid the area.
In a tweet, the police service wrote: “Police operation in progress do not use Notre Dame Sector Center ville Nice.”
In another tweet they added: “The detonations you hear are those caused by the services of @PoliceNationale, Do not panic, the situation is under control -Respect the security perimeter – Do not use Notre Dame sector.”
The area has been cordoned off by authorities and an alleged suspect has reportedly been arrested.
France’s anti-terrorist body said it is now looking into the fatal knife attack.
A minute of silence was held at the French National Assembly on Thursday morning following the incident.