LYON, France (AP) — A Greek Orthodox priest was shot Saturday whereas he was closing his church within the French metropolis of Lyon, and authorities locked down a part of town to hunt for the assailant, authorities mentioned.
The priest, a Greek citizen, is in a neighborhood hospital with life-threatening accidents after being shot twice within the stomach, a police official advised The Related Press. The attacker was alone and fired from a searching rifle, mentioned the official, who was not licensed to be publicly named.
Police cordoned off the largely residential neighborhood across the church, and detained one one that resembled descriptions of the gunman however was unarmed on the time of his arrest, the Lyon prosecutor mentioned in an announcement. It mentioned investigators are attempting to find out his identification.
As evening fell on Lyon, an Related Press reporter noticed police tape and emergency automobiles all through the neighborhood. Nationwide police tweeted that “a critical public safety incident” was below means.
The rationale for the capturing was unclear. It occurred two days after an Islamic extremist knife assault at a Catholic church within the French metropolis of Good that killed three folks, and amid ongoing geopolitical tensions caricatures mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad revealed in satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
French anti-terrorist authorities have been following the case however not investigating Saturday’s capturing. The inside minister activated a particular emergency workforce to observe the manhunt, and the Lyon prosecutor opened an investigation for tried homicide.
“No idea is favored, no idea is dominated out,” Lyon Mayor Gregory Doucet advised reporters on the scene. “We don’t know at this stage the motive for this assault.”
Antoine Callot, the pastor at one other Greek Orthodox church in Lyon, recognized the wounded priest as Nikolas Kakavelakis, a 45-year-old father of two. Callot advised The AP that the Greek Orthodox neighborhood in Lyon has not acquired any threats, however mentioned he instantly requested police for safety safety at his church after the capturing.
“We’re anxious and anguished. It’s actually horrible,” he mentioned. “Now we have to disguise and watch out.”
Residents and a neighborhood police patrol heard photographs close to the church, and when officers arrived they noticed a person operating away and located the wounded priest by the again door of the church, the Lyon prosecutor mentioned in an announcement.
Prime Minister Jean Castex reiterated authorities guarantees to deploy army forces at non secular websites and faculties. He mentioned French folks can “rely on the nation to permit them to apply their faith in full security and freedom.”
The federal government has been promising further safety at church buildings, mosques and different non secular websites for a number of days now, however AP reporters have seen little seen signal of an elevated police or army presence. Nobody was guarding the church focused Saturday in Lyon, or the church attacked in Good on Thursday.
The Greek International Ministry mentioned in an announcement: “We condemn the assault in opposition to an Orthodox priest of Greek origin close to the Church of the Annunciation in Lyon, France. The Ministry of International Affairs is in fixed contact with the competent French authorities.”
Looking for to calm tensions and to elucidate France’s protection of the prophet cartoons, President Emmanuel Macron gave an interview broadcast Saturday on Arabic community Al-Jazeera. Macron additionally tweeted that “our nation has no drawback with any faith. They’re all practiced right here freely! No stigmatization: France is dedicated to peace and residing collectively in concord.”
Charlton reported from Paris. Demetris Nellas in Athens and Laurent Cipriani in Lyon contributed.