The attack in Avignon is the second in southern France in one day.
Rabat – Police in Avignon, southern France, shot a man dead on Thursday morning after he threatened the public with a weapon.
The suspect threatened to kill passersby, waving a handgun before police shot him, according to media reports.
French outlet Midi Libre reported that the attack took place near a psychiatric hospital but said there is no evidence to suggest the offender was a patient at the hospital.
The Avignon attacker allegedly made incoherent comments, but not with a religious connotation, according to the same source. Meanwhile, other French outlets such as Europe 1 suggest the man shouted “Allahu Akbar.”
The attack occurred only two hours after a man killed three with a knife at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in the southern French city of Nice. Among the victims is a woman whom the suspect decapitated.
Police opened an anti-terror investigation into the attack in Nice, with the city’s mayor describing it as “another” instance of “Islamofascism.” However, police told the press that there is no evidence of an “Islamist character.”
Both knife attacks come in a context of tension in France following the beheading of history teacher Samuel Paty. The killer was an 18-year-old Chechen student born in Russia who said he beheaded the teacher for displaying Charlie Hebdo’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on freedom of expression.
Although Muslims denounced the brutal murder, the French government made several provocative statements in the aftermath of the attack, including President Emmanuel Macron who said, “Islamists want our future.”
Macron also said that France will not “give up” the caricatures that Muslims consider offensive, namely those depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The French government’s endorsement of Charlie Hebdo and its offensive cartoons pushed several Muslims around the world to boycott French products.
Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan called on Turks to boycott French products in response to Islamophobia and scapegoating.
Arabs and Muslims in France have also been victims of xenophobic attacks, for either speaking in Arabic or wearing the hijab.
On Monday, a man and a woman attacked two Jordanian siblings in the province of Angers, western France, after hearing them speaking Arabic.
The two siblings told the press that the attackers shouted, “This is France and not for you,” before beating them “severely.”