As news of French President Emmanuel Macron’s reelection hit the headlines worldwide Sunday, newspapers also reported that a man attacked a Catholic priest and a nun with a knife in a church in the southern city of Nice while shouting, “We have to kill Macron.”
The priest, Father Christophe of Église Saint-Pierre-d'Arène de Nice, a Catholic Church along the French Riviera, was stabbed 20 times, mostly in the chest, and the nun, identified as Sister Marie-Claude, was stabbed in the arm as she sought to stop the attacker, The Independent reported.
The priest's and nun's injuries are not life-threatening and the suspect has been arrested, the country’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted.
The French newspaper Le Figaro reported that the attacker shouted, “we have to kill Macron,” as he stabbed the priest.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said in a tweet that the attacker might have been planning the assault for “a few days.”
Estrosi also told reporters that the suspect is a 31-year-old mentally unstable French national who was born in the port town of Fréjus on the French Riviera in southeastern France.
The suspect was the subject of psychiatric monitoring with several stays in the Sainte- Marie psychiatric hospital in Nice.
“I want to thank the emergency services and the police for their exemplary work, and I send all my thoughts to the faithful of the parish,” Estrosi tweeted.
Eric Ciotti, a local French politician representing the 1st constituency of Alpes-Maritimes in the National Assembly, praised the “extraordinary courage” of Sister Marie-Claude, according to Fox News.
Police have said the suspect had no criminal record, he was not known to security agencies and they were not suspecting that terror was the motive.
Meanwhile, 44-year-old President Macron won the presidential election with 58% of the vote against his challenger, Marine Le Pen, who garnered 42% of the vote. He is set to become the first French president in modern times to be reelected while holding the office.
Last December, French authorities arrested two suspected terrorists who were planning a mass stabbing attack to kill “disbelievers” during the Christmas holidays in Paris.
One of the two men arrested in the greater Paris area had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group and told police he was plotting to kill non-Muslims and hoping to be shot dead to become a “martyr,” The French newspaper Le Figaro reported at the time.