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Lyon attack: Suspect in Orthodox priest shooting released


image copyrightReuters

image captionPolice cordoned off parts of the city after the attack on Saturday

Police in the French city of Lyon have released an initial suspect in the shooting of a Greek Orthodox priest.

The prosecutor’s office said it found no evidence of the man’s involvement, suggesting the gunman could still be at large.

The shooting happened when the priest was closing his church on Saturday. He was seriously injured.

Officials have opened an investigation for attempted murder. Reports have suggested a possible personal motive.

Prosecutors said they were keeping all hypotheses open.

The shooting in Lyon happened at about 16: 00 local time (15: 00 GMT). Police said the attacker was armed with a sawn-off shotgun.

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.

On Sunday, prosecutors said investigators had found no evidence he was linked to the attack.

The priest, identified as Nikolas Kakavelakis, was reported to be in a serious condition in hospital on Sunday.

“We pray for a speedy recovery and unequivocally condemn all forms of violence,” said the Greek Orthodox Holy Diocese of France.

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.

Prime Minister Jean Castex on Saturday 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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