French police on Friday arrested a third person in connection with Thursday’s knife attack at a church in Nice in southern France that left three people dead.
According to Reuters, authorities in France now have in custody a 35-year-old Nice resident who is suspected of meeting with the alleged attacker the day before Thursday’s killings.
This comes after The Associated Press reported Friday that police arrested a 47-year-old man believed to have been in contact with the attacker the night before the incident.
Police had already arrested the suspected attacker, whom the AP named as Ibrahim Issaoui, after police wounded him in a confrontation Thursday outside Nice’s Notre Dame Basilica, less than a mile from the location of a 2016 truck attack that killed dozens.
The AP reported that among the victims in Thursday’s attack were a 55-year-old father of two who handled the Catholic Church’s holy objects, as well as a 44-year-old mother of three from Brazil who studied cooking and volunteered in poor communities.
He reportedly had a copy of the Quran and a bag with two unused knives. Another bag with his belongings also had two knives.
The AP reported Friday that Issaoui received a notice that he was being expelled from Italy for illegal entry and was given seven days to leave.
Italy’s interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, confirmed Friday that the suspect was ordered to leave Italy early this month.
In the aftermath of the attack, French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronPriest in France shot and injured, two days after knife attack in church UK’s Boris Johnson considering new lockdown amid rising COVID-19 numbers Third person taken into custody after attack at French church MORE announced that he would be sending 7,000 troops to protect schools and religious sites. The government had also raised its security alert status to the highest threat level.
The attack marked the the third in France in the past two months that authorities have tied to Islamic extremists, including the Oct. 16 beheading of a French middle school teacher who showed his class caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad for a lesson on free speech.
The caricatures were published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and cited by the men who gunned down the newspaper’s editorial meeting in 2015, leaving 12 dead.
Last month, an asylum-seeker in France attacked people with a knife outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices.