French police said a Greek Orthodox priest was shot dead on Saturday as he closed his church in the city of Lyon, and authorities are searching for the assailant.
The priest, a Greek citizen, is in a local hospital with fatal injuries after being shot in the abdomen, a police official told The Associated Press. The attacker was alone and fired a shotgun, said the official, who was not authorized to be named publicly.
Police have locked down the area around the church and warned the public on Twitter to stay away. As night fell in Lyon, police gangs and emergency vehicles could be seen on the images broadcast on French television.
The reason for the attack was not clear. It happened two days laterin a Catholic church in the French city of Nice that killed three people; and amid tensions over the publication by a French newspaper of cartoons mocking the Muslim prophet Muhammad.
French counterterrorism authorities did not investigate Saturday’s shooting, although the interior minister activated a special emergency team to follow the case while the shooter was still at large.
Prime Minister Jean Castex reiterated the government’s promises to deploy military forces to religious sites and schools. According to him, the French can “count on the nation to allow them to practice their religion in complete safety and freedom”.