A priest and a nun were injured in a knife attack on election morning in Nice, the French newspaper Figaro reported.
The attacker has been arrested. The incident took place in the church of Saint-Pierre d’Aren in the southern part of the city.
Around 10:00, shortly before the service, a man entered the church and immediately turned to the priest Krzysztof Rudzinski, 57, of Polish descent. He stabbed him about 20 times, mainly in the chest area. Sister Marie-Claude, 72, was slightly injured in the arm when she intervened to disarm the attacker.
The two victims received medical assistance. Their lives are not in danger, according to the initial conclusions of the doctors, reported by several sources and later confirmed by the Minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin, who spoke on Twitter. He expressed his solidarity with the parishioners and congratulated the police forces, which quickly arrested the perpetrator.
At this stage of the investigation, the motives of the attacker, arrested with a seven-centimeter knife, remain unclear.
Born in 1991 in Frejus and living in Nice, Kevin R. spontaneously told police that he was “of the Jewish faith” and that on election day he wanted to “kill Macron“, but according to a police source he ended up in a church.
The attacker seems to have been labelled as with bipolar disorder and was recently admitted to a hospital in Nice due to mental health problems. Police should also investigate if the state of mind of the attacker was influenced by the heavy and dangerous drugs that psychiatrists give to people labelled with such disorders, as the side effects of such drugs include increase of violence. He is not known to the police and intelligence services. The investigation currently excludes the version of a terrorist act.
However, the National Counter-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office has been notified, which is common in such circumstances.
Nice prosecutor Xavier Boniom went to the scene at noon. “Caution must be exercised,” he told a news briefing.
The area has been cordoned off by police. MP Eric Siotti, who also went to the scene, condemned on Twitter the “terrible attack on a priest and a nun.”
The mayor of the city, Christian Estrozi, also expressed his “support for all believers in Saint-Pierre-d’Aren” and wished “a speedy recovery of Father Christophe and Sister Marie-Claude.”
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron has won the election. Thus, for the first time in 20 years, the country re-elected its president for a second term. Emmanuel Macron will lead the country with strong presidential power for another five years. Although with a late start to the campaign – 5 weeks before the first round and 7 weeks before today’s runoff – his team managed to convince enough French that his vision for the future of the country is more promising than that of the populist right.
Macron entered today’s election day with a consensus among sociological forecasts that he leads in popularity. But data from exit polls today (published by Belgian and Swiss media, banned in France until the formal end of voting at 8pm local time) predicted that it would continue to rise – to 55-58 per cent of voters’ preferences.