France rocked by horrific terrorist attacks and second COVID lockdown

PARIS – Before the killings began, the largest church in Nice was quiet and almost deserted.

Vincent Loqués opened Notre-Dame Basilica at 8:30 am as usual. The iconic cathedral, a striking bone white structure, was built in the mid-1860s in the Gothic Revival style and sits on Avenue Jean Médecin de Nice, a bustling downtown thoroughfare lined with cafes and of shops. Loqués, 55, has worked there as a sacristan for the past 10 years, and his duties included welcoming visitors and worshipers when the church opened.

One of those devotees was Simone Barreto Silva, 44. This mother of three, born in Brazil, had lived in Nice for decades and had come to the basilica for a morning prayer.

A few minutes later, a young man armed with a knife entered the church and began to attack those inside, stabbing Loqués and Silva. Loqués died at the scene, but Silva was able to stumble to a nearby cafe before collapsing and dying from his injuries.

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