At least two people were killed and several were wounded on Thursday following a knife attack at a church in the French city of Nice, according to multiple reports.
The attacker, believed to be acting alone, was injured during his arrest and was taken to a local area hospital, police said.
An investigation was opened into an attack by the French anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office, reports said. Images on French media showed the neighborhood locked down and surrounded by police and emergency vehicles.
Mayor Christian Estrosi suggested that the Thursday morning attack seemed to be terror-related, although a motive is unclear at this time.
Estrosi said the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar!” repeatedly as police apprehended him and that “the meaning of his gesture left no doubt.”
He added that two people were killed inside the church and a third person who escaped to a nearby bar was in a life-threatening condition.
The attack comes as France is currently under alert for Islamic extremist acts. It occured nearly two weeks after a French middle school teacher, Samuel Paty, was beheaded by a man of Chechen origin near Paris.
The attacker, who was killed after he didn’t respond to requests to drop his weapon, had said he wanted to punish Paty for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson, Reuters reported.
The cartoons that led to the teacher’s death were the same drawings that were at the center of a deadly 2015 extremist attack on Charlie Hebdo’s staff.
Leaders from around the Muslim world added their criticism of what they see as attacks on Islam in the West, while France vowed not to back away from defending freedom of expression.
The Associated Press contributed to this report