Brazil names Nice knife attack victim as Simone Barreto Silva

Kim Willsher in Paris and Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Simone Barreto Silva/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Simone Barreto Silva/Reuters

The 44-year old victim of the Nice knife attack who told paramedics “tell my children I love them” as she died of stab wounds has been named Simone Barreto Silva, who worked as a carer for elderly people.

Silva, who was born in the Brazilian state of Bahia, was a citizen of France, where she had reportedly lived for about 30 years.

Grieving friends in Nice said the single mother and trained chef was “always smiling” and a “bonne vivante”.

Myriam Touil, a close friend, told BFMTV: “She was a brave, generous, devout woman but also tolerant. If someone wanted to attack a symbol of joie de vivre, they could not have found better.”

In a statement the Brazilian foreign ministry said it lamented and condemned “this heinous attack” and was offering support to her family.

“President Jair Bolsonaro, in the name of the whole Brazilian nation, offers his profound sympathies to relatives and friends of the murdered citizen, as well as the other victims, and solidarity to the people and government of France,” it said.

Friends and relatives paid tribute to Silva, who had three children, on social media. “May God protect your soul up there in heaven,” one cousin wrote. “You were a woman so full of dreams and vitality.”

A woman lays flowers in front of the Notre-Dame de l&#x002019;Assomption Basilica in Nice.
A woman lays flowers in front of the basilica in Nice where the attack took place. Photograph: Valéry Hache/AFP/Getty Images

In a broadcast on Thursday night, Brazil’s far-right president called the killing an act of “Christianophobia”.

“She was there praying and this bloke who hates Christians came in. When we talk about Christianophobia this is what we mean … we have to fight this, and not with flowers,” Jair Bolsonaro said, according to the Correio Braziliense newspaper.

Silva reportedly died in a restaurant opposite the basilica where she had taken shelter after running from the building with fatal injuries. Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported that one of the last things she said before dying was: “Tell my children I love them.”

The Brazilian newspaper O Globo said Silva had been born and raised in Salvador, a city in north-eastern Brazil where the majority of citizens are of African descent. RFI said the victim had also worked as a cultural activist in Nice, helping to organise a festival paying tribute to the Afro-Brazilian sea goddess Iemanjá.

Brazil’s foreign ministry said it was committed to eradicating the “scourge” of terrorism.

Another victim of the attack, Vincent Loquès, 55, had his throat cut by the attacker. His body was found inside the church.

A picture of Vincent Loqu&#xe8;s is seen among candles and flowers in front of Notre Dame basilica
A picture of Vincent Loquès is seen among candles and flowers in front of Notre Dame basilica. Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Loquès, who had two daughters, was a devout Catholic and had been sexton at the basilica where he prepared the sacraments and altar for the mass for 10 years. His role was also to welcome visitors and worshippers to the basilica when it opened each morning.

He was described as a calm person who had spent his life “serving the church”.

Laura Male, a parishioner of the Notre-Dame basilica, said: “I’m so shocked. I still imagine him, I still see him walking, lighting the candles. And now I’m thinking: ‘He’s not there any more.’”

Her sister added: “We’re always with him. He’s always there, he spends the day there. He shares his life here. He’s not someone who comes and goes. This is his home, he’s here all day.”

The third victim, a 60-year-old woman who was the to be first killed – allegedly by 21-year-old Brahim Aouissaoui – has not been named. She had gone to Notre-Dame basilica early on Thursday to pray when she was attacked inside the church. France’s anti-terrorist prosecutor, Jean-François Ricard, said her throat was “cut so deeply as to be a kind of decapitation”.