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Lyon attack: Orthodox priest wounded in shooting


image copyrightReuters

image captionPolice cordoned off streets as they searched for the assailant

A Greek Orthodox priest has been seriously wounded in a shooting in the French city of Lyon, officials say.

The gunman fled the scene, sparking a manhunt. A suspect resembling witness descriptions was later taken into custody.

The motive for the attack remains unclear. Authorities have opened an investigation of attempted murder.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the killings an “Islamist terrorist attack” and deployed thousands of extra soldiers to protect public sites, including places of worship.

The shooting in Lyon happened at about 16: 00 local time (15: 00 GMT) on Saturday when the priest was closing his church, officials said.

The attacker, who police said was armed with a sawn-off shotgun, fled the scene.

The French interior ministry said security and emergency personnel were on the scene, and urged people to avoid the area.

In a statement on Saturday night, Lyon’s public prosecutor, Nicolas Jacquet, said “a person who could correspond to the description given by the initial witnesses has been placed in police custody”.

He added that the suspect had not been carrying a weapon at the time of his arrest. Investigators are trying to determine his identity.

Lyon Mayor Gregory Doucet earlier told reporters: “We don’t know at this stage the motive for this attack.”

The priest has been identified as Nikolas Kakavelakis. He is in hospital and is reported to be in a serious condition.

The priest is said to have life-threatening injuries after being shot twice in the abdomen.

France Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government was determined to allow “each and everyone to practice their worship in complete safety and in complete freedom”.

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