Nice police on guard for more attacks following church killings

Richard Gianotti, head of Nice municipal police, poses during an interview with Reuters the day after a deadly knife attack at the Notre Dame church in Nice, France, October 30, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

NICE, France (Reuters) - The police chief of Nice said on Friday that Christian and French state sites were at risk of militant attacks following the killing of three people in a church in the city by a knife-wielding assailant.

Thursday's violence prompted the government to raise the security alert for all French territory to its highest level and President Emmanuel Macron said more soldiers would be deployed to protect key sites such as places of worship and schools.

Local police are also on high alert.

"We are in a situation where the terrorist risk is more and more prevalent. Any symbol of the republic or Christianity is a potential target," Gianotti told Reuters. "We have to be vigilant, we have to be attentive."

A man shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) on Thursday decapitated a woman and killed two other people before being shot and taken away by police.

The suspect is a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant who arrived in Europe on Sept. 20 at Lampedusa, an Italian island off Tunisia.

Gianotti said police video recordings would be key for investigators as the city has 3,300 security cameras in the streets.

"Investigators will use all our video recordings and this will be decisive for helping the investigation," he said.

(Reporting by Caroline Pailliez, Christian Hartmann and Lucien Libert; Writing by Matthieu Protard, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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