Wednesday. 17.04.2024

A Greek Orthodox priest is in critical condition after being shot in the French city of Lyon on Saturday, according to judicial sources.

The attack occurred around 16:00 (local time) on Saturday when the clergyman was about to lock up the church.

According to broadcaster FranceInfo, the perpetrator fired two shots with a sawn-off hunting rifle. The shots are said to have hit the 52-year-old in the abdomen. The priest was not wearing clerical attire at the time of the act.

The incident in Lyon was initially linked to the knife attack in a church in Nice, in which a 21-year-old Tunisian killed three people a few days ago. For this reason, residents were asked to stay away from the scene of the attack as police deployed en masse and a crisis unit was convened.

After the attack in Nice, France declared the highest terrorism warning level.

However, investigators were scratching their heads on Sunday over the motive for the attack in Lyon.

Riffle not found

Police arrested a suspect who corresponded to descriptions from eyewitnesses, Lyon Public Prosecutor Nicolas Jacquet said on Saturday. The hunting rifle with which he is said to have shot the Greek priest twice in the city in south-eastern France was not found on the suspect.

The prosecutor has opened an investigation into attempted murder. So far, investigations have not been taken over by the anti-terrorism division of the French public prosecutor's office.

Investigators are pursuing the hypothesis that there was a personal grievance behind the attack.

Personal animosities

There are believed to have been personal animosities and conflicts in the church, Antoine Callot, also a priest of the French-speaking Orthodox Church in Lyon, told the radio station France Info.

For this reason, the victim is not believed to have celebrated Mass in the church for a month.

EU Council President Charles Michel condemned the attack in a tweet on Saturday, saying freedom of conscience is a right for everyone in Europe and must be respected, while violence is intolerable.

Greek Orthodox priest shot in French city of Lyon