The Nice attacker who killed three worshippers in a church has been identified – and a second victim has been named.
Police sources said Thursday’s terror suspect – 21-year-old Tunisian Brahim Aouissaoui – arrived in Europe by boat last month and was unknown to security services.
A judicial source told Reuters news agency on Friday a 47-year-old man was detained late last night on suspicion of having been in contact with Aouissaoui, confirming an earlier report on BFM TV.
It comes as France’s interior minister warned further attacks are likely on French soil while the country is engaged in a “war against Islamist ideology” – although the motive for the Nice attack is not yet known.
“We are in a war against an enemy that is both inside and outside,” Gerald Darmanin told RTL radio.
“We need to understand that there have been and there will be other events such as these terrible attacks.”
After reaching the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa on 20 September, Aouissaoui entered France, travelling through the southern Italian city of Bari on 9 October.
He arrived in Nice by train yesterday morning and changed his clothes at the station, before walking 400m to the Notre Dame church where he killed a 60-year-old woman and 55-year-old church worker Vincent Loques, a father-of-two.
She and Mr Loques died at the scene, while a 44-year-old Brazilian-born woman made it out of the church to a nearby cafe and raised the alarm before dying from her wounds.
Simone Barreto Silva had lived in France for 30 years and had three children, according to Brazilian media reports, which said although being a trained cook she was a care worker who looked after the elderly.
The mayor of her home city of Salvador, the capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia, paid tribute to her in a tweet, saying she was born in Lobato, a suburb of the city.
France’s chief anti-terrorist prosecutor, Jean-Francois Ricard, said after the attack at the church, the suspect moved towards police in a “threatening way”, shouting “Allahu Akbar” [God is greatest] before being shot and seriously wounded by officers, who fired at least 14 bullets at him.
He remains in a critical condition in hospital.
The suspect had with him an Italian Red Cross identity document, a Koran and two phones, while a bag containing two unused knives was also found.
The blade used in the attack was 30cm long, with a cutting edge of 17cm.
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Witnesses described hearing “screams” after the attack and being told to run away quickly by police at the scene.
President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Nice on Thursday afternoon, said his country was “under attack” and expressed the “support of France towards the Catholic community”.
He added that the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites would be increased from about 3,000 at the moment to 7,000.
It comes as the country remains under high alert for terrorist attacks following the beheading earlier this month of French middle school teacher Samuel Paty in Paris.