Three people have died in a knife attack at a church in Nice, in what French President Emmanuel Macron said was an “Islamist terrorist attack”.
He said France would not surrender its core values after visiting the Notre-Dame basilica in the southern city. Thousands of troops are being deployed to protect churches and schools.
In Nice, one elderly victim was “virtually beheaded”, officials said. Another woman and a man also died.
A male suspect was shot and detained.
Anti-terror prosecutors have opened an investigation into the attack and France has raised its national security alert to its highest level.
French media are quoting sources close to the investigation as saying the attacker was a 21-year-old Tunisian migrant, however the authorities have not provided any details.
Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi spoke of “Islamo-fascism” and said the suspect had “repeated endlessly ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest)”.
Two other attacks took place on Thursday, one in France and one in Saudi Arabia.
A man was shot dead in Montfavet near the southern French city of Avignon after threatening police with a handgun.
Separately, a guard was attacked outside the French consulate in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. A suspect was arrested and the guard taken to hospital.
Speaking after visiting Nice on Thursday, President Macron said: “If we are attacked once again it is for the values which are ours: the freedom, for this possibility on our soil to believe freely and not to give in to any spirit of terror.
“I say it with great clarity once again today: we won’t surrender anything.”