Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, Ganja, has been hit by heavy shelling today as the country’s forces exchanged heavy rocket and artillery fire with Armenia over disputed territory.
Fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh has intensified between the two nations’ forces in the last week, with the breakaway region’s capital and Azerbaijan’s Ganja both hit today.
Armenia said that Nagorno-Karabakh’s main city Stepanakert, which has been under shelling since Friday, was hit again today with regular explosions and clouds of black smoke rising in parts of the city.
Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said meanwhile that Armenian forces had shelled Ganja, a city of more than 330,000 in western Azerbaijan, with footage showing buildings in ruins.
People help an injured man in a bomb shelter during shelling by Azerbaijan’s artillery during a military conflict in Stepanakert
The two sides accused each other of targeting civilian areas, as the conflict widened a week after heavy fighting broke out in the decades-old dispute over the ethnic-Armenian region.
More than 220 people are thought to have died in the conflict during the past week.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have resisted international calls for a ceasefire and clashes have intensified in recent days, with both sides claiming victories on the front and saying they are inflicting heavy losses.
Fire burns in a residential area after shelling by Azerbaijan’s artillery during a military conflict in self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, Azerbaijan, today
Buildings are seen in ruin and disrepair after recent shelling in Stepanakert, today
A man walks through the rubble past an overturned and burnt-out car in Stepanakert, today
In a fiery address to the nation, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev set conditions for a halt to the fighting that would be near-impossible for Armenia to accept.
He said that Armenian forces ‘must leave our territories, not in words but in deeds’ and provide a timetable for a full withdrawal.
Yerevan must also recognise the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, apologise to the Azerbaijani people and admit that the region is not part of Armenia, Aliyev said.
An injured woman brought to hospital in Ganja, Azerbaijan, following shelling on the city
People shelter in the basement of the main church of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region’s main city of Stepanakert
Families take cover from the shelling in a church in Stepanakert
President Ilham Aliyev said: ‘Nagorno-Karabakh is our land. We have to go back there and we are doing it now.
‘This is the end. We showed them who we are. We are chasing them like dogs.’
Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting
WHAT AND WHERE IS NAGORNO-KARABAKH?
Karabakh is a region within Azerbaijan which has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since a full-scale separatist war ended in 1994, after killing about 30,000 people and displacing an estimated one million.
Nagorno-Karabakh is about 1,700 square miles in size, but Armenian forces also occupy other nearby territory.
HOW DID THE CONFLICT START?
Long-simmering tensions between Christian Armenians and mostly Muslim Azerbaijanis began boiling over as the Soviet Union frayed in its final years. Once the USSR collapsed in 1991 and the republics became independent nations, war broke out.
A 1994 cease-fire left Armenian and Azerbaijani forces facing each other across a demilitarised zone, where clashes were frequently reported.
WHAT’S HAPPENED SINCE?
International mediation efforts have brought little visible progress. The conflict has been an economic blow to the Caucasus region because it has hampered trade and prompted Turkey to close its border with Armenia.
Fighting periodically breaks out around Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders, often deadly, notably in 2016 and this July. Since new fighting erupted on Sunday, dozens have been killed and wounded in apparent shelling by both sides. Each country blamed the other.
WHAT´S THE BROADER IMPACT?
In addition to causing local casualties and damage, the conflict in the small, hard-to-reach region is also of concern to major regional players.
Russia is Armenia´s main economic partner and has a military base there, while Turkey has offered support to Azerbaijanis, fellow Muslims and ethnic brethren to Turks. Iran neighbors both Armenia and Azerbaijan and is calling for calm.
Meanwhile, the United States, France and Russia are meant to be guarantors of the long-stalled peace process, under the auspices of the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Sirens were sounding and explosions were heard at regular intervals in Stepanakert, where residents were taking shelter including several families in the basement of the city’s Holy Mother of God Cathedral.
Armenia’s foreign ministry said Stepanakert and other towns had been hit, accusing Azerbaijani forces of ‘the deliberate targeting of the civilian population’.
There were reports of dead and wounded civilians in Stepanakert and the historic town of Shusha.
Azerbaijan said Ganja was under shell fire, including from areas outside of Karabakh in Armenian territory, with at least one civilian killed.
Karabakh’s separatist forces said they had targeted and destroyed an airbase in Ganja, but Baku denied this as a ‘provocation’.
Azerbaijan’s ally Turkey accused Armenia of ‘targeting civilians’ in Ganja and reiterated support for its fellow Turkic and Muslim country as ‘one nation, two states’.
Karabakh leader Arayik Harutyunyan warned that it would now consider ‘military facilities in Azerbaijan’s big cities’ as legitimate targets.
‘I call on the residents of these cities to immediately leave,’ Harutyunyan said in a post on Facebook.
Azerbaijani officials claimed Sunday that Harutyunyan had been seriously wounded while in a bunker hit by bombing, but his office denied this.
Azerbaijan claims to have taken control of a string of settlements in recent days as well as a strategically important plateau.
Today Aliyev said his forces had retaken the town of Jabrayil, part of an area outside Karabakh seized by the separatists in the 1990s as a buffer zone, hailing it as an important victory. Armenia denied the claim.
Authorities in both countries have reported nearly 250 dead since the fighting began, including almost 40 civilians.
Armenian separatist forces have reported more than 200 dead – including 51 on Saturday – while Azerbaijan has not released any figures on its military casualties.
Azerbaijan said that two civilians had been killed in shelling today on the southern town of Beylagan, with residents seen picking through the rubble of destroyed homes.
‘I was baking bread when I heard explosions, I opened the door and saw that bombs were falling right into the yard,’ said one woman, showing journalists the blown-out windows and partially collapsed roof of her home.
In Armenia’s majority-Christian capital Yerevan, residents gathered in churches for services Sunday to pray and light candles.
‘I came to ask God for peace, for our country and our soldiers,’ Aytsemik Melikyan told AFP outside the Saint Sarkis Church.
Russia, the United States and France – who co-chair a mediation group that has failed to bring about a political resolution to the conflict – have called for an immediate halt to the fighting.
A man sweeps a street after a shelling attack in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh, today
A man shows fragments of the projectile which he found at destroyed houses following a shelling in Terter, Azerbaijan, today
Thick black smoke rises from the aftermath of recent shelling in the disputed region’s main city of Stepanakert
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed concern over ‘the increase of casualties’ among civilians in a call with his Armenian counterpart on Sunday.
Armenia has said it is ‘ready to engage’ with mediators but Azerbaijan – which considers Karabakh under Armenian occupation – says Armenian forces must fully withdraw before a ceasefire can be brokered.
Karabakh’s declaration of independence from Azerbaijan during the collapse of the Soviet Union sparked a war in the early 1990s that claimed 30,000 lives.
Talks to resolve the conflict have made little progress since a 1994 ceasefire agreement.
Local residents hide in a bomb shelter in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh as fighting escalates
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Pictured: Terrorist, 21, who killed three with foot-long knife in Nice church terror rampage
Brahim Aoussaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant, killed three worshippers in the Notre Dame basilica in Nice
The Islamist terrorist who shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ as he butchered a man and two women during an attack on a Catholic church in France today has been pictured.
Brahim Aoussaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian who arrived in Europe on a migrant boat just last month, attacked worshippers with a 12-inch blade in the Notre Dame basilica in Nice, slitting the throat of an elderly woman near the church’s holy water in a beheading attempt.
He hacked sacristan Vincent Loques, a 54-year-old father-of-two, to death as he prepared for the first Mass of the day, while a mother in her forties also succumbed to her injuries after seeking refuge in a nearby bar after telling paramedics: ‘Tell my children that I love them’.
The assailant was shot 14 times by armed police as he screamed ‘God is greatest’ in Arabic during the attack and ‘while under medication’ as he was taken to hospital, Nice’s Mayor Christian Estrosi said.
Aoussaoui arrived in Nice at around 6.30am via the railway station, where he quickly changed his clothes, Jean-Francois Ricard told journalists today. CCTV then showed him arriving in the church at 8.30am and staying there for nearly half an hour.
The assailant, born in Tunisia in 1999, entered Europe via the Italian island of Lampedusa on September 20 and arrived in Paris on October 9. The travel information came from a document on Aoussaoui from the Italian Red Cross, the state prosecutor said.
Investigators found two unused knives, a Koran and two mobile phones, in addition to a bag with some personal effects. He was unknown to French security services, Mr Ricard told a press conference.
A picture showing Aoussaoui bleeding on the floor and being treated by paramedics after he was shot by armed police outside the basilica was tweeted by the head of the respected SITE organisation.
Elsewhere a security guard was stabbed and wounded outside the French consulate in Saudi Arabia, while two other men were arrested – one while carrying a knife near a church in Sartrouville after his father reported he was about to carry out a Nice-style attack, and another who tried to board a train in Lyon carrying a long blade.
It was thought that police had foiled another Islamist attack in the town of Avignon when an armed man was shot dead by officers after refusing to drop his weapon.
However, it later transpired the man was part of the far-Right, anti-Islam Identarian Movement, and had made a Nazi Salute. French media initially reported the man shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’, which turned out to be incorrect.
The killings, which occurred ahead of the Catholic holy day of All Saints Day on Sunday, prompted the French government to raise the terror alert level to the maximum ’emergency’ level nationwide.
President Emmanuel Macron, who quickly travelled to Nice, announced increased surveillance of churches by France’s Sentinelle military patrols, to be bolstered to 7,000 troops from 3,000.
Security at schools would also be boosted, he said. ‘Quite clearly, it is France that is being attacked,’ Mr Macron said, and vowed the country ‘will not give up on our values’.
He threw his weight behind the Catholic church, saying: ‘The entire nation will stand so that religion can continue to be exercised freely in our country.’ He also called for ‘unity’ urging people ‘not to give in to the spirit of division’.
Tonight mourners attended vigils to pay tribute to the victims of the triple killing. They lit candles outside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice and in front of the French Embassy in Berlin.
The attacks come amid fury across the Islamic world at President Macron for defending satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and on the day that Sunni Muslims mark the Prophet’s birthday.
Several Muslim-majority countries launched campaigns to boycott French products, while protesters burnt the tricolor and posters of Macron at demonstrations in Syria, Libya, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine.
Also on a day of terror for France:
- A security guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was stabbed and wounded;
- A man armed with a knife was arrested in Sartrouville near a church after vowing ‘to do as in Nice’;
- An Afghan man was arrested in Lyon trying to board a train while armed with a long knife;
- Malaysia’s ex-PM said that Muslims have a right ‘to kill millions of French people’ if Islam is insulted;
- French politicians lined up to demand tougher action against what Nice’s mayor branded ‘Islamo-fascism’;
- Online jihadists celebrated the triple killing in France and Saudi Arabia today, a report by SITE said
Vincent Loques (pictured), 45, a sacristan of the Notre Dame basilica in the city of Nice, was brutally killed as he prepared for the first Mass of the day after 21-year-old Tunisian migrant Brahim Aoussaoui attacked the church
Three people have died after a knifeman attacked the Notre Dame basilica in Nice, before he was shot by police
An elderly woman who had come to the church early to pray was the first to be beheaded before a male church warden was also killed. A third woman was then stabbed multiple times, ran across the street, and died of her injuries
President Emmanuel Macron visits the scene of a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice
French coroners carry out the body of one of the three people killed at the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice
People light candles outside the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption Basilica in Nice following an Islamist terror attack
People mourn as they attend a commemoration for the victims killed during an in a church attack in Nice
Muslim faithfuls pray at the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica in Marseille, south-eastern France
French police officers secure the street near the entrance of the Notre Dame Basilica church in Nice
People mourn as they attend a commemoration for the victims killed during a church attack in Nice
Young people light candles near the entrance of the Notre Dame Basilica church in Nice following a triple killing
A woman places a candle at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Nice attack, in front of the French embassy in Berlin
Police swarmed the area around 9am, running into the church before the attacker was shot and arrested. Mayor Christian Estrosi said the attacker kept shouting Allahu Akbar even after being medicated
Emmanuel Macron arrives at the scene of the attack, where he spoke with paramedics and police officers
A security officer secures the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice
Emmanuel Macron takes part in a video conference on Covid-19 with members of the European Council at the Elysee Palace
General view of the Black Carpet to pay tribute to victims of the attack in Nice today at the Cannes Festival
The first attack took place at 9am in Nice, before the second attack in Avignon two hours later. Separately, a guard at the French consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was stabbed
In the Nice attack, the first victim – a woman in her seventies – was attacked after coming there early to pray and was found ‘almost beheaded’ close to the church font.
The 45-year-old sacristan, Vincent Loques, a father-of-two, was then attacked and also beheaded.
A third woman – described as of African origin and aged in her 30s – was then stabbed ‘multiple times’ and managed to flee to a bar across the street, where she died.
Muslims ‘have a right to kill French people’, ex Malaysian PM says
Malaysia‘s former prime minister today said that Muslims have a right ‘to kill millions of French people’, shortly after a knife-wielding Islamist killed three people in a deadly terror attack in Nice.
Mahathir Mohamad, who lost power in Muslim-majority Malaysia in February, claimed that freedom of expression does not include ‘insulting other people’ amid a row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
The 95-year-old politician said he did not approve of the beheading of a French school teacher for sharing caricatures of the Prophet, but said: ‘Irrespective of the religion professed, angry people kill’.
‘The French in the course of their history [have] killed millions of people. Many were Muslims,’ he said in a tweet which has since been removed for violating the website’s rules.
Mahathir, who has drawn controversy for comments about Jews and LGBT people in the past, went on: ‘Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people for the massacres of the past.’
The Malaysian politician said that ‘by and large’, Muslims have not applied the principle of ‘eye for an eye’: ‘Muslims don’t. The French shouldn’t. Instead the French should teach their people to respect other people’s feelings’.
Mahathir, who served as Malaysian premier twice for a total of 24 years, said that French President Emmanuel Macron was ‘very primitive’ and ‘not showing that he is civilised’.
Police were called and arrived at 9.10am. They stormed the basilica, shooting and arresting the attacker.
The attacker is a 21-year-old Tunisian who is thought to have arrived in France via Italy, after being smuggled across the Mediterranean.
According to Italian newspaper Ill Messaggero, Aoussaoui arrived on the island of Lampedusa on September 20 before being transferred to coronavirus quarantine.
He was then taken to a migrant centre on the Italian mainland on October 9, before being told to leave Italian territory and released. From there, he made his way to France. It is not clear precisely when he arrived.
Italian security services are now investigating why Aoussaoui was freed rather than detained awaiting deportation.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said Aoussaoui ‘kept shouting Allahu Akbar even after being medicated’, and that ‘the meaning of his gesture is not in doubt’.
‘Enough is enough,’ he said. ‘It’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islamo-fascism from our territory.’
Estrosi said the victims had been killed in a ‘horrible way’. ‘The methods match, without doubt, those used against the brave teacher in Conflans Sainte Honorine, Samuel Paty,’ he said.
Meanwhile Eric Ciotti, a local councillor, tweeted: ‘I have just asked President Macron to suspend all migratory flows and all asylum procedures, particularly at the Italian border. We must protect the French!’
In Sartrouville, north of Paris, a man was arrested around 1pm after his father called police and said his son had left home and planned ‘to do as in Nice.’
Police stopped the man in his car near a local church, and Le Parisien reports that he was in possession of a knife. The car was searched, but nothing else was found.
Meanwhile in Lyon, an Afghan man in his 20s was arrested while trying to board a tram carrying a long knife. The man was known to French intelligence services.
In Avignon, a man armed with a handgun began threatening people in the Montfavet around 11.15am while shouting Allahu Akbar, France1 reported.
Police rushed to the scene and confronted the man, who refused to drop his weapon. Police then shot the man with a Taser, which failed to stop him, so they opened fire with live ammunition, killing him.
French anti-terror investigators have announced they are leading the probe into the attack in Nice, but have not yet taken up the investigation in Avignon.
Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, a man was arrested after stabbing a guard at the French consulate with ‘a sharp tool’. The attacker was arrested while the guard was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
France’s embassy in Riyadh condemned the ‘attack on diplomatic premises which can never be justified’.
A woman, believed to be the wife of the church warden (wearing the beige jumper) is seen at the scene of the attack in Nice
A woman, believed to be a close friend of one of the victims, weeps in front of the basilica after three people were killed
It is thought the woman was a close friend of the church warden, named locally as Vincent L, who was killed in the attack
French President Emmanuel Macron and Nice mayor Christian Estrosi (standing to his right) meet police officers after a terror attack at Notre Dame church in Nice
French President Emmanuel Macron, second right, Nice mayor Christian Estrosi, right, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, second left, and Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti arrive at Notre Dame church in Nice
Police officers stand guard near Notre Dame church in Nice, southern France, after a terror attack
Special forces stand guard near the scene of a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice
A police dog handler and officers search a car parked near the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Nice
It was initially thought police had foiled another Islamist attack in Avignon, when an armed man was shot dead, but he later turned out to be a member of a far-Right organisation
‘Eradicate this plague’: French politicians demand action to ‘wipe out Islamo-fascism’ after three die in Nice terror attack
French politicians lined up to demand tougher action against Islamist terrorism today after three people were murdered by a knifeman in Nice.
The triple murder is the latest in a long line of terror attacks in France in recent years, including the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015 and the beheading of a school teacher two weeks ago after he displayed some of the magazine’s cartoons.
Nice’s mayor Christian Estrosi said today that ‘enough is enough… it’s time now for France to exonerate itself from the laws of peace in order to definitively wipe out Islamo-fascism from our country’.
One of Emmanuel Macron‘s party colleagues called for ‘total mobilisation’ against extremism in what another called a ‘war that the Islamists are waging on our nation’.
Macron’s prime minister Jean Castex said France’s alert level had been raised to its highest ‘attack emergency’ setting after today’s violence.
Within hours of the Nice attack, a gunman had been shot dead by police in Paris while a knifeman was arrested for attacking a guard at a French consulate in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking in parliament, where he had earlier been talking about France’s new lockdown, Castex said the Nice attack was ‘as cowardly as it is barbaric’.
French anti-terror prosecutors have opened an inquiry into what mayor Estrosi called an ‘Islamo-fascist attack.’
French diplomats also called on Saudi authorities to ‘shed light on this attack’ and ensure the safety of French people in the kingdom.
‘We call on our colleagues in Saudi Arabia to show maximum vigilance,’ the embassy said after Saudi security forces apprehended the suspect, who is said to be a Saudi national in his 40s.
The Nice attack happened less than half a mile from where another attacker plowed a truck into a Bastille Day crowd in 2016, killing dozens.
Emmanuel Macron led an emergency cabinet meeting on the attack before leaving for Nice, where he is expected to arrive shortly.
French politicians were taking part in a debate on the country’s new coronavirus restrictions when news of the attack reached them.
They observed a minute of silence before the debate broke up so an emergency security meeting could be held.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Jean Castex moved the threat level from ‘risk of attack’ to the ’emergency level’, meaning threats are imminent.
Images on French media showed the neighborhood locked down and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles. Sounds of explosions could be heard as sappers exploded suspicious objects.
The Catholic Church issued a statement, condemning the ‘unspeakable act’ and saying that ‘Christians must not become a symbol to be cut down.’
Catholic bishops in France called for all church bells to ring at 3pm in solidarity with the victims, before adding: ‘It is urgent that this gangrene be stopped as it is urgent that we find the indispensable fraternity which will hold us all upright in the face of these threats’
Pope Francis was among those leading an outpouring of sympathy, saying: ‘I pray for the victims, for their families and for the beloved French people, so that they can react to evil with good.’
Former French Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande also issued statements, the former condemning an ‘act of barbarism’ and calling on people to oppose ‘the enemies of democracy; while the latter vowed that ‘democracy is our weapon… in the face of Islamist terrorism’.
Tunisia strongly condemned a deadly ‘terrorist’ attack at the church in Nice and said it launched an investigation after reports the assailant was Tunisian.
‘Tunisia strongly condemns the terrorist incident in Nice and expresses its solidarity with the government and people of France,’ said a statement from the foreign ministry.
The North African state stressed its ‘rejection of all forms of terrorism and extremism,’ and warned against ‘ideological and political exploitation of religions,’ according to the statement.
Jihadists celebrate Nice terror attack as ISIS and al-Qaeda supporters call for more attacks against France in sickening online propaganda
Online jihadists celebrated the latest terror attack on France today after three people were murdered by a knifeman in Nice on a day which also saw a gunman killed in Avignon and a guard attacked at a French consulate in Saudi Arabia.
The latest in a long line of violent attacks in France was ‘already being celebrated massively across jihadi communities’ by late Thursday, according to the SITE Intelligence monitoring group.
SITE director Rita Katz said it was ‘hard to recall social media celebration this massive for terrorism’ with jihadists taking to Twitter and Facebook to welcome the latest grisly murders.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for today’s violence, but it comes amid high tensions between France and the Muslim world after a teacher was beheaded for showing Prophet Mohammed cartoons to his class two weeks ago.
Katz said that jihadists were celebrating the attackers ‘freedom of action’ after three violent episodes in the space of a few hours.
‘These new attacks comes amid a massive and enduring wave of jihadi media condemning France and its cartoonists,’ she said.
A report by SITE said that jihadists were ‘overjoyed’ by the news from Nice, Avignon and Saudi Arabia today.
Extremists linked to both ISIS and al-Qaeda have seized on the beheading of Samuel Paty earlier this month to incite more attacks against France.
Katz said that the ‘prospect of co-ordination’ between the various attackers seemed ‘increasingly plausible’, although not confirmed.
The assailant, who was shot by police and arrested, is reportedly a Tunisian migrant who recently arrived in France via Lampedusa, Italy, according to sources close to the case.
Condemnation came from US President Donald Trump, UN chief Antonio Guterres, as well as European, Arab and Israeli leaders.
‘Our hearts are with the people of France. America stands with our oldest Ally in this fight,’ Trump tweeted. ‘These Radical Islamic terrorist attacks must stop immediately. No country, France or otherwise can long put up with it!’
Democratic White House candidate Joe Biden vowed to crack down on ‘extremist violence’ if elected.
‘Jill and I are keeping the French people in our prayers following the horrific terror attack in Nice – which targeted innocents in a house of worship,’ he said on Twitter.
‘A Biden-Harris administration will work with our allies and partners to prevent extremist violence in all forms.’
Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended his condolences to French President Emmanuel Macron and families of the victims of the attack in Nice.
In a telegram quoted by the Kremlin, Putin called the attack ‘a cynical and a cruel crime inside a church’ and said that ‘the notions of human morals are absolutely alien to terrorists.’
Saudi Arabia ‘strongly condemned’ deadly stabbings Thursday in the French city of Nice, which authorities are investigating as the latest terrorist attack in France.
A knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in Nice on Thursday, slitting the throat of at least one of them, in an attack that triggered global shock.
‘We strongly condemn and denounce the terrorist attack that occurred… in Nice, France, which resulted in the death and injury of a number of people,’ the Saudi foreign ministry said on Twitter.
‘We reiterate the kingdom’s categorical rejection of such extremist acts that are inconsistent with all religions, human beliefs and common sense, and we affirm the importance of rejecting practices that generate hatred, violence and extremism.’
The French Council of Muslim Worship also issued a statement strongly condemning the attack.
‘As a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their relatives, I call on the Muslims of France to cancel all the festivities of the Mawlid feast,’ which takes place on October 28 and 29.
The attack is just the latest to strike France, after history teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded in another attack north of Paris.
Paty was stabbed by an 18-year-old Chechen after he showed the cartoons to his students during a lesson on free speech.
Forensic officers wait outside the basilica after two people were killed inside during a terror attack in Nice
French soldiers and policemen secure the site of a knife attack in Nice
Rescue and police are mobilised because a man attacked several people with a knife in the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice
French policemen stand guard a street after a knife attack in Nice
French policemen and firefighters stand guard a street after a knife attack in Nice
French police officers stand at a security perimeter following a knife attack at the Notre Dame Basilica church in Nice
French policemen stand guard a street after a knife attack in Nice
A security officer guards the area after a reported knife attack at Notre Dame church in Nice
French politicians were taking part in a coronavirus lockdown debate when the news reached them – and held a minute of silence in the chamber (pictured)
Players and referees at the OGC Nice v Hapoel Be’er Sheva game in Allianz Riviera, Nice, line up before the match in a minute silence to commemorate the victims of the Nice killings
Parents of pupils at the school had led a campaign against him, before the attack took place. Seven have been arrested.
Just a few weeks earlier, an 18-year-old Pakistani stabbed a wounded two people outside the old offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
UN extremism official blasts ‘inflammatory’ Charlie Hebdo cartoons
The head of a UN anti-extremism body expressed ‘deep concern’ Wednesday about growing tensions over satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, urging ‘mutual respect’ between people.
The statement by Miguel Angel Moratinos – who heads the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations – follows growing anger in the Muslim world over France’s response to the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils the images as part of a class on free speech.
President Emmanuel Macron has vigorously defended the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed on free speech grounds, sparking angry protests across swathes of the Muslim world and campaigns to boycott French products.
The UN High Representative ‘is following with deep concern the growing tensions and instances of intolerance triggered by the publication of the satirical caricatures depicting Prophet Mohammed,’ a spokesman said.
‘The inflammatory caricatures have also provoked acts of violence against innocent civilians who were attacked for their sheer religion, belief or ethnicity.
‘Insulting religions and sacred religious symbols provokes hatred and violent extremism leading to polarization and fragmentation of the society.’
The man has admitted to police that he was targeting the magazine for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also spoke out to condemn the attack, tweeting: ‘I am appalled to hear the news from Nice this morning of a barbaric attack at the Notre-Dame Basilica.
‘Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and the UK stands steadfastly with France against terror and intolerance.’
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed ‘solidarity’ with France, saying she is ‘deeply moved by the cruel murders in a church in Nice.’
‘I condemn the odious and brutal attack that has just taken place in Nice and I am with France with all my heart,’ European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.
‘We will remain united and determined in the face of barbarity and fanaticism.’
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte condemned a ‘cowardly attack’ and said: ‘Our convictions are stronger than fanaticism, hatred and terror. We embrace the families of the victims and our French brothers. We are united!’
Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez added: ‘We continue to defend freedom, our democratic values, peace and the security of our citizens.’
A harder tone came from Hungary, where populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban wrote that the attack showed clearly ‘that our culture, our way of life and our European values are in the cross hairs of extremist terrorism.
‘We are ready to join forces in order to protect traditional European values and the traditional European way of life,’ Orban added.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who previously governed with far-right ministers, called the murders in Nice ‘a despicable Islamist terror attack.
‘France has our full solidarity. We will defend our values and European ‘way of life’ with all our might against Islamists and political Islam,’ Kurz said.
It also comes amid mass protests in many Islamic countries against Emmanuel Macron, after the French President spoke up in defence of the cartoons.
Tweeting in Arabic, he wrote: ‘Nothing makes us hold back, ever. We respect all differences in the spirit of peace. We never accept hate speech and defend rational debate.
‘We will always stand by human dignity and universal values.’
His remarks have prompted demonstrations in Gaza, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and boycotts of French products in Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Palestinian territories.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has led outrage at Macron, suggesting that he is mentally ill and needs to have his health evaluated.
On Thursday, Ankara said strongly condemned Thursday’s ‘savage’ knife attack in southern France that left three people dead, offering its ‘solidarity’, despite a running diplomatic spat with Paris.
‘We strongly condemn the attack committed today inside the Notre-Dame church in Nice,’ a foreign ministry statement said, while offering condolences to the victims’ relatives.
Tunisians take part in a protest against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in France
Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of Tunisia on Thursday, as anger at the publication of cartoon of Mohammed spread across the Muslim world
Marchers gathered on the streets of Tunisia on Thursday, following on from marches in Gaza, Bangladesh and Pakistan
The attack is thought to have begun around 9am before police were called, and arrested the perpetrator. The area is now cordoned off
Armed police approach the church where the attack is thought to have started during Mass
Armed police are seen on the streets of Nice after the attack early on Thursday
The attack began around 9am just as Mass was getting underway at the basilica, the largest Roman Catholic church in Nice
Police cordon off the street leading to the basilica after the attack on Thursday
Egypt’s foreign ministry said it ‘stands as a government and people with… France in combatting this hateful incident’. Qatar voiced strong condemnation and reiterated its rejection of violence and terrorism, especially against places of worship and regardless of the motives
The foreign ministry also expressed condolences to the victim’s families.
Lebanese prime minister designate Saad Hariri voiced his ‘strongest condemnation and disapproval of the heinous criminal attack,’ and urged Muslims ‘to reject this criminal act that has nothing to do with Islam or the Prophet’.
The Islamic world’s anger at France deepened on Wednesday as Turkey condemned a Charlie Hebdo cartoon showing its president Recep Tayyip Erdogan lifting a woman’s burka to look at her naked backside.
Erdogan called the cartoonists ‘scoundrels’ and accused the West of wanting to ‘relaunch the Crusades’ by attacking Islam after the image appeared on the front of this week’s magazine.
‘I don’t need to say anything to those scoundrels who insult my beloved prophet on such a scale,’ Erdogan said, calling it a ‘disgusting attack’.
Erdogan’s spokesman on Thursday deflected blame over the attack in France, saying ‘we categorically deny any effort to associate us with any kind of violence.’
‘We will continue to confront any politician who insults our religion and values. We feel we owe no apology to anyone for expressing our strong opposition to racism and xenophobia,’ he said.
‘Our President has always called for cooperation against terrorism and extremism. We renew that call while we reject the damaging rhetoric and actions against our religion and culture regardless of its ideological source.’
Showing Erdogan in a T-shirt and underpants, the caricature has Erdogan saying ‘Ooh, the Prophet’ as he looks at the woman’s backside, and comes with the caption: ‘Erdogan – in private he’s very funny’.
A Charlie Hebdo cartoon showing the naked Prophet’s backside was the image which French school teacher Paty showed to his class in the lesson which led to his murder and beheading earlier this month.
President Macron has staunchly defended free expression and the right to mock religion in the wake of the terror attack, but has become a target of anger in the Islamic world.
Turkey has vowed to take ‘legal, diplomatic actions’ in response to the cartoon while Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan called for an end to ‘attacks on Islam’, saying the West should be willing to treat blasphemy in the same way as Holocaust denial.
Meanwhile Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani also took aim at France today by warning that insulting the Prophet would encourage ‘violence and bloodshed’.
Indian Muslims burn posters of Emmanuel Macron during protest against his defence of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed
Thousands of Muslims gathered in Bhopal, India, to protest against Macron’s comments defending cartoons of the Prophet
Protesters in Bhopal also joined calls for a boycott of French products that is already underway in some Muslim countries
Pakistani journalists hold placards with the name of Mohammed on them as they demonstrate in Karachi, Pakistan
Muslims demonstrators burn posters of Emmanel Macron during a protest in Quetta, Pakistan, on Thursday
TERROR IN FRANCE: HOW ATTACKS HAVE UNFOLDED OVER FIVE YEARS
An attacker with a knife killed three people and wounded several others at a church in Nice on Thursday, police said.
The terror attack took place less than two weeks after the beheading of middle school teacher Samuel Paty by a man of Chechen origin.
Paty’s attacker said he wanted to punish him for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.
Here are other attacks that have taken place in France over the past few years:
Sept 25, 2020 – Two people are stabbed and wounded in Paris near the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, where Islamist militants carried out a deadly attack in 2015. A man originally from Pakistan was arrested
Oct. 3, 2019 – Mickael Harpon, a 45-year-old IT specialist with security clearance to work in the Paris police headquarters, killed three police officers and one civilian employee before being shot dead by police. He had converted to Islam about 10 years earlier.
March 23, 2018 – A gunman kills three people in southwestern France after holding up a car, firing on police and taking hostages in a supermarket, screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’. Security forces storm the building and kill him.
July 26, 2016 – Two attackers kill a priest and seriously wound another hostage in a church in northern France before being shot dead by French police. Francois Hollande, who was France’s president at the time, says the two hostage-takers had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
July 14, 2016 – A gunman drives a heavy truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring scores more in an attack claimed by Islamic State. The attacker is identified as a Tunisian-born Frenchman.
June 14, 2016 – A Frenchman of Moroccan origin stabs a police commander to death outside his home in a Paris suburb and kills his partner, who also worked for the police. The attacker told police negotiators during a siege that he was answering an appeal by Islamic State.
Nov. 13, 2015 – Paris is rocked by multiple, near simultaneous gun-and-bomb attacks on entertainment sites around the city, in which 130 people are killed and 368 are wounded. Islamic State says it was responsible for the attacks. Two of the 10 known perpetrators were Belgian citizens and three others were French.
Jan. 7-9, 2015 – Two Islamist militants break into an editorial meeting of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7 and rake it with bullets, killing 12 people. Another militant kills a policewoman the next day and takes hostages at a supermarket on Jan. 9, killing four before police shoot him dead.
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
MARK ALMOND: The savagery of this terror attack in Nice could spark a new race war
After the harrowing butchery in the Catholic cathedral in Nice, the city’s mayor called for France to stop behaving as though it was a country at peace.
Many commentators and academics bridle at talk of a war on domestic terrorism, calling instead for analysis of its causes.
Perhaps they still believe in the old French saying, ‘To understand all is to forgive all’.
The problem is that after this horrific terrorist attack on the weakest and meekest in society, France’s capacity for understanding has been stretched to the limit.
Three people died – two of whom were beheaded – after 21-year-old Tunisian migrant Brahim Aoussaoui attacked the Notre Dame basilica in Nice on Thursday morning
No indignation over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad can possibly justify such an outrage.
The French police and intelligence services do of course need to understand the roots of this savagery and work out ways to identify and neutralise potential killers before they strike.
After all, this attack is just the latest in an appalling catalogue of recent Islamist violence against the French – from the mass murder at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March 2012, to the Charlie Hebdo killings in January 2015, the Bataclan concert shootings the following November and the Nice lorry attack in the summer of 2016.
Angered people burn an effigy of French President Macron over his comments on Prophet Muhammad caricatures, in Karachi Pakistan on Tuesday
One explanation for this tide of terror is history’s poisonous legacy.
The beheadings recall the savage war for independence in Algeria before 1962, when the Muslim rebels often butchered French settlers and the French army struck back with torture and arbitrary executions. Some French terrorism analysts suggest that an Algerian-style civil war is now coming to France itself.
At the heart of the potential confrontation is a clash of two different cultures. On one side is the French tradition of a powerful national identity and strong secularism, stretching back to the late 18th century revolution.
On the other is an increasingly alienated minority, defined by their religion and estimated to number at least 5 million strong, the largest Muslim population of any European country.
The size of the task facing Macron’s intelligence services, as they hope to spot potential killers by peering into the grim concrete suburbs housing most of France’s Muslim population, is terrifying.
These ‘banlieues’ have often become crime-ridden no-go zones for the police in recent decades. And there is a small percentage of French Muslims within them who have completely rejected French laws and society, and become dangerously radicalised.
The current wave of knife attacks may be less deadly than heavily-armed rampages like those at the Charlie Hebdo offices and Bataclan Theatre – but decapitation by a single killer is in many ways more sinister.
Uproar: Demonstrators shout slogans against French President Emmanuel Macron during a protest following Macron’s comments over the Prophet Mohammed caricatures, in Lahore
These lone wolf killers are even more difficult to forestall than carefully-planned atrocities, which leave an intelligence trail. Worryingly, it is the young, born and bred in France, who are most likely to adopt the slogans of Islamist fundamentalism even as they listen to Western rap music.
The goal of the hate preachers whose internet sermons groom and alienate these young men is to provoke a violent split between the French majority and the large Muslim minority.
And while President Macron valiantly preaches the virtues of secularism and tolerance, his sentiments will find no echo among large sections of France’s resentful Muslims. At the same time, many of the non-Muslim French are turning to Marine le Pen’s hard Right nationalist party which rejects Macron’s idealised vision of France as being too soft on terrorism.
Calls to boycott French goods are growing in the Arab world after French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Islamists and vowed not to ‘give up cartoons’ depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Promising to rain hellfire on terrorists after the decapitation of teacher Samuel Paty in Paris two weeks ago, she used inflamatory martial language, calling for ‘wartime legislation’ to take on the terrorist nightmare in the country’s midst.
‘Our President has proposed an inadequate and anachronistic containment strategy,’ she said. ‘The situation calls for a strategy of reconquest.’
President Macron has the all-but impossible task of rooting out potential terrorists without using heavy-handed methods which play into the propaganda of the godfathers of terror – over-reaction is what they want.
Unfortunately, following the horror of yesterday’s attack, that is what many French non-Muslims now want, too.
Mark Almond is Director of the Crisis Research Institute, Oxford
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
Wuhan celebrates Halloween ten months after coronavirus began there
Photos show large numbers of people gathering to watch a parade at the Happy Valley Wuhan amusement park on Thursday night.
Some revellers swapped face masks for spookier options and there was no sign of social distancing as people posed for photos together and queued to see a Halloween show.
As several European countries mull lockdown measures amid a rising second wave of infections, life is gradually returning to normal in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
Revellers posed for a group photo with ghostly pirate performers at the Happy Valley Wuhan theme park on Thursday night
The Halloween event drew large crowds in the city which just ten months ago became infamous around the world as the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic
Some swapped face masks for superhero masks at the event, where large crowds mingled without social distancing measures
France imposed a second national lockdown starting on Friday as the country’s daily deaths from coronavirus reached their highest level since April.
President Emmanuel Macron said that people would only be permitted to leave home for essential work or medical reasons.
Meanwhile China reported only 47 new cases on Thursday, the majority of which reportedly came from abroad.
There have been no new cases of community transmission in Wuhan since May, according to Chinese government figures.
In recent months, domestic tourism has began slowly trickling back into the city, which is home to more than 11 million people.
As several European countries mull lockdown measures amid a rising second wave of infections, life is gradually returning to normal in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Revellers watch a Halloween parade in Wuhan on Thursday night
Aside from the vigilant wearing of face masks, life seemed to have largely returned to normal at the Halloween event in Wuhan
The Happy Valley Wuhan amusement park hosts an annual Halloween event that has hosted daily events well into November in past years
Fearsome floats like the one pictured were a big feature of the Halloween parade at the Happy Valley Wuhan amusement park
Visitors and performers were decked out in their best spooky attire with superheroes, geishas and zombies proving popular costume choices.
Meanwhile a parade of floats included a demonic Chinese dragon and a ghostly pirate ship.
Halloween is not traditionally celebrated as a holiday in China but it has gained popularity in the last two decades as an opportunity to dress up and have fun as China has opened up to Western cultural influence.
The Halloween events at the Happy Valley amusement park included a number of spooky shows, as well as the float parade
Visitors and performers were decked out in their best spooky attire with superheroes, geishas and zombies proving popular costume choices
Halloween is not traditionally celebrated as a holiday in China but it has gained popularity in the last two decades as an opportunity to dress up and have fun
Always a popular costume, nurses were out in force among the crowds in Wuhan on Thursday night, with many young women opting to adapt the look to become a zombie nurse.
The costumes may have a risked causing offence this year after at least 23 Chinese healthcare workers died from coronavirus, according to figures released in June by China’s National Health Commission.
But many seemed pleased to pose for pictures with the ghoulish girls.
Always a popular costume, nurses were out in force among the crowds in Wuhan on Thursday night, with many young women opting to adapt the look to become a zombie nurse
The costumes may have a risked causing offence this year after at least 23 Chinese healthcare workers died from coronavirus, according to figures released in June by China’s National Health Commission but many seemed happy to pose for photos with the ghoulish girls
Visitors and performers posed for photos without social distancing in Wuhan. China appears to have largely tamed Covid-19, with the country announcing only 47 new cases on Thursday, the majority of which it said came from abroad
The event at the Happy Valley Wuhan amusement park, which reopened in May, featured a parade of fearsome floats through the park.
Last year, the Happy Valley chain, which has eight parks around China, held Halloween-themed events every night until from late October until mid November.
The spectacles in 2019 included haunted houses, various performances and a survival horror game. It’s not clear if the same array of events were on offer this year.
Outside of Halloween season, the popular park has rollercoasters, spinning teacups and swing rides, among other attractions.
When the Wuhan site reopened in May, guests were temperature checked on arrival and required to book online in advance as only limited numbers were allowed in but it’s not clear if these measures are still in place.
In previous years, the Happy Valley Wuhan’s amusement park’s Halloween offerings have included haunted houses, various performances and a survival horror game. It’s not clear if the same array of events were on offer this year
Outside of Halloween season, the popular park has rollercoasters, spinning teacups and swing rides, among other attractions. Pictured: A guest sporting a different kind of a face mask at the Halloween celebration
Fearsome floats in the Halloween paraded included a demonic version of the traditional Chinese dragon seen in many of the country’s festivals
The Halloween event was likely a welcome opportunity for Wuhan’s residents to celebrate after a dramatic and gruelling year. Pictured: A Halloween attraction at the Happy Valley Wuhan amusement park
Aside from the vigilant wearing of face masks, Wuhan, along with other Chinese metropolises including Shanghai and Beijing, appears to be returning to normal after Covid-19 first emerged there in late December 2019.
Cinemas are open, restaurants are packed and concerts are going ahead, helping China’s economy to recover from the strains of combating the virus.
Thursday’s scenes are in stark contrast to images of Wuhan’s deserted streets and overcrowded hospitals that filled media reports in the first months of the year as the world scrambled to understand the new virus and its effects.
Wuhan endured a gruelling 76-day lockdown at the height of the pandemic during which the city became a ghost town with tight restrictions on people coming in or out and residents largely barred from leaving their homes.
China continues to restrict travel between certain regions, with some cities requiring visitors to quarantine for 14 days.
Foreign visitors are subject to more restrictions and there have also been reports of xenophobia and racism towards foreigners in China amid fears of outsiders importing the disease back into China.
Thursday’s scenes are in stark contrast to images of Wuhan’s deserted streets and overcrowded hospitals that filled media reports in the first months of the year as the world scrambled to understand the new virus and its effects
Visitors queue to attend a Halloween show at the Happy Valley amusement park in Wuhan, China, as part of the site’s spooky seasonal offering
Wuhan residents got creative with their costumes. Halloween has grown in popularity in China as the country has opened up to Western cultural influences
This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk
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