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Paris: Turkey's president has been accused of fanning the flames of Islamist violence against France, which mourned its second beheading in two weeks in an attack on a church in Nice that left three dead.
A 21-year-old assailant of Tunisian origin attacked an elderly churchgoer at Notre-Dame Basilica, decapitating her before slitting the throat of a warden and stabbing a second woman to death.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.Credit:AP
The suspect, Brahim Aoussaoui, 21, told police he arrived in France last month from Lampedusa, where he was virus quarantined before being released with an order to quit Italian territory.
"France is very clearly under attack," declared Emmanuel Macron, citing a stabbing at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in which a guard was injured. In Avignon, an armed man was shot dead by police after he refused to drop his weapon.
In Lyon a knife-wielding Afghan suspect was arrested near a railway station and in Sartrouville, north of Paris, a man was seized with a blade near a church after telling his father he planned "to do as in Nice".
The attacks prompted France to raise its terror alert to maximum and double the soldiers on its streets to 7000.
A defiant Macron said France would not alter its values. "I say it with great clarity again today," he said. "We will not give any ground."
The French president has been involved in a freedom of expression feud with Recep Tayipp Erdogan of Turkey in the wake of the beheading earlier this month of a teacher who showed his class cartoons that Muslims find offensive.
Erdogan said this week "there is a lynch campaign running against the Muslims which is similar to the one against Jews in Europe before World War II."
Fethis Benslama, a radicalisation expert in France, said: "Erdogan really has fanned this hatred – these people know full well when they use such phrases where they will lead."
European leaders last night also condemned the attack.
"President Erdogan's rhetoric toward Emmanuel Macron this week was deeply inappropriate. Words have consequences," said Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans.
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