PARIS — An assailant with a knife killed at least two people on Thursday morning at a church in the southern French city of Nice, according to local officials who said it appeared to be a terrorist attack.
The assault comes as the country is still shaken by the beheading of a teacher in a Paris suburb this month by a young Muslim man after the teacher showed caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a class.
The mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, said in a statement posted to Twitter shortly after the attack that he was on the scene with the police and that a suspect had been arrested. He later said at least two people were killed and one seriously injured.
“I confirm that everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Notre-Dame basilica,” the mayor wrote.
Éric Ciotti, a lawmaker who represents the region that includes Nice, told reporters in Paris that, based on the information provided to him by emergency services, “it looks a lot like a terrorist attack.”
The French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, said in a post on Twitter that he had immediately convened a crisis meeting.
The attack took place at the Notre-Dame de L’Assomption basilica, and the local authorities did not immediately release details about the victims or the circumstances. The police warned residents to stay away from the area around the church as a “very serious” event was underway and controlled explosives were being used. They also urged residents to remain calm.
Videos posted to social media showed lines of people filing out of the area around the church as police evacuated the scene.
In 2016, Nice was also the site of one of France’s worst terrorist attacks, when a man plowed a 19-ton refrigeration truck into crowds that had gathered on the city’s main seaside promenade to watch fireworks, killing 86.
Megan Specia contributed reporting from London.