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Priest shot outside Greek Orthodox church in Lyon, France

He is now in hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Police in Lyon are investigating after an Orthodox priest was shot.
Police in Lyon are investigating after an Orthodox priest was shot.
Image: Foudrot Emmanuel/ABACA

Updated Oct 31st 2020, 6:06 PM

A GREEK ORTHODOX priest has been shot outside his church in the city of Lyon, and police are hunting for the assailant, French police have said.

The priest is in a local hospital with life-threatening injuries after being hit in the abdomen, a police official told the Associated Press.

The attacker was alone and fired from a hunting rifle, said the official.

Police locked down the neighbourhood around the church and warned the public on Twitter to stay away.

The reason for the attack is unclear.

It comes two days after a knife attack at a Catholic church in the French city of Nice that killed three people, amid tensions over the publication of caricatures mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

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

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Prime Minister Jean Castex reiterated government promises to deploy military forces at religious sites and schools.

He said French people can “count on the nation to allow them to practice their religion in full safety and freedom”.

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

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

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