Lyon attack: Man arrested after priest shot in French city

A Greek Orthodox priest has been shot and injured the French city of Lyon.

The assailant fled the scene, sparking a manhunt.

A police source told Reuters the priest was fired at twice around 4pm local time as he was closing the church.

Another police source said the priest was of Greek nationality, and had been able to tell emergency services as they arrived that he had not recognised his assailant.

A separate official told the Associated Press the priest was hit in the abdomen and had been taken to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. They said the attacker was alone and fired with a hunting rifle.

Police cordoned off the largely residential neighbourhood around the church, and detained one person who resembles descriptions of the gunman, but was not armed at the time of his arrest, the Lyon prosecutor said in a statement. It said investigators are trying to determine his identity.

French anti-terrorist authorities were not investigating the shooting, although the interior minister activated a special emergency team to follow the case while the gunman was at large.

It comes two days after a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) beheaded a woman and killed two other people at a church in Nice.

Earlier this month, an 18-year-old beheaded a schoolteacher in a Paris suburb, apparently because the teacher showed a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in class.

French ministers had warned that other Islamist militant attacks could take place.

President Emmanuel Macron has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect sites such as places of worship and schools.

Seeking to calm tensions and to explain France’s defence of the prophet cartoons, Mr Macron gave an interview broadcast on Saturday on Arabic network Al-Jazeera.

He also tweeted that “our country has no problem with any religion”, adding: “No stigmatisation: France is committed to peace and living together in harmony”.

France’s prime minister Jean Castex reiterated government promises to deploy military forces at religious sites and schools.

The Greek Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “We condemn the attack against an Orthodox priest of Greek origin near the Church of the Annunciation in Lyon, France. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is in constant contact with the competent French authorities.”

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