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Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on his Twitter feed the priest’s life was not in danger and added that police had arrested the attacker described as “mentally unstable”.
Father Krzysztof Rudzinski, 59, was stabbed 20 times with a 7cm knife before Sister Marie-Claude, 72, was cut in the hand as she reportedly snatched the knife from the attacker.
The attack came as France was voting in the second round of presidential elections.
Eric Ciotti, a local politician, praised the “extraordinary courage” of Sister Marie-Claude, who intervened while the attacker stabbed the priest. She was injured in the forearm while attempting to snatch the knife away.
Firefighters transported him to Hospital Pasteur, the university hospital in Nice, France.
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi said the attacker was mentally unstable, had no criminal record and was known to have purchased a knife several days earlier. BFM TV quoted police as saying the attacker was a 31-year-old French man and there was no suspicion of a terror motive.
A l’Eglise Saint Pierre d’Arène avec le @prefet06, suite à l’agression d’un prêtre et d’un paroissien. Il s’agirait d’un déséquilibré qui a été interpellé par la @PoliceNat06 et la @PMdeNice. pic.twitter.com/WzlxIRMmMe
— Christian Estrosi (@cestrosi) April 24, 2022
He tweeted a picture from inside the church and said the attacker was a ‘disturbed’ Frenchman who may have planned the attack for ‘a few days’.