NICE, France (AP) – A new suspect is in custody on Friday as part of the investigation into a gruesome attack by a Tunisian that killed three people in a French church, as France stepped up its security alert amid religious and geopolitical tensions around cartoons mocking the Muslim prophet.
The suspect is a 47-year-old man who would have been in contact with the attacker the day before the attack on the Notre-Dame basilica in the French Riviera city of Nice, according to a judicial official. The official was not allowed to be publicly named.
The attacker, Ibrahim Issaoui, was seriously injured by police and hospitalized in a life-threatening condition, authorities said. Counterterrorism prosecutors in France and Tunisia are investigating.
In an interview broadcast Friday with the Saudi channel Al-Arabiya, Issaoui’s mother said she was shocked by the events.
MACRON DECLARES FRANCE “ UNDER ATTACK ” AFTER THE CONDUCT OF THE CHURCH, THE SAFETY OF BOLSTERS IN SCHOOLS, RELIGIOUS SITES
From the Tunisian province of Sfax, the mother, eyes wet with tears, said she was surprised to learn that her son was in France when he called when he arrived and had no idea what ‘he foresaw. “You don’t know the French language, you don’t know anyone there, you’re going to live there alone, why, why did you go there? she said she told him over the phone at the time.
His brother told Al-Arabiya that Issaoui informed the family that he would be sleeping outside the church and sent them a photo showing him at the cathedral where the attack took place. “He didn’t tell me anything,” he said. A neighbor said he knew the assailant when he was a mechanic and held various other odd jobs and showed no signs of radicalization.
KNIFE ATTACK IN FRANCE: WORLD LEADERS UNITE AFTER 3 DEATHS IN “ BARBARIAN ” ASSASSINS IN NICE EGLISE
The French counterterrorism prosecutor said the suspect is a Tunisian born in 1999 who reached the Italian island of Lampedusa, a key disembarkation point for migrants crossing boats from North Africa, on September 20 and surrendered in Bari, a port city in southern Italy. , October 9. We don’t know when he arrived in Nice.
The attack was the third in less than two months that French authorities attributed to Muslim extremists, including the beheading of a teacher who had shown caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class after the images were republished by satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
French President Emmanuel Macron said he would immediately increase the number of soldiers deployed to protect schools and religious sites from around 3,000 to 7,000.