Brazilian woman among those killed in France church attack

France's national anti-terror prosecutors have opened a murder inquiry after a man killed three people at a basilica in central Nice and wounded several others

One of the three victims of an extremist knife attack in a church in France Thursday was a 44-year-old Brazilian mother of three, the Brazil foreign ministry announced.

The woman was seriously wounded in the attack on the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice, in the southeast of France, by a 21-year-old Tunisian immigrant who had recently arrived in the country.

She managed to flee to a nearby bar, but died shortly after, police sources have said.

"Tell my children I love them," she managed to say before her death, according to a report by French cable channel BFM TV.

"The Brazilian government regretfully announces that one of the fatalities was a 44-year-old Brazilian mother of three children, living in France," a statement from the foreign ministry said.

It did not confirm whether she also had French nationality.  

In a near half-hour frenzy in the Notre-Dame basilica in the center of Nice, on the Mediterranean coast, the assailant used a knife of 30 centimeters (12 inches) to cut the throat of a 60-year-old woman so deep that he practically beheaded her, French authorities have said.

The body of a man, a 55-year-old church employee, was found nearby inside the basilica, his throat also slit.

The Brazilian woman, the third victim, died of multiple knife wounds.

The assailant was shot and wounded by police. French President Emmanuel Macron has called the killings an "Islamist terror attack."

"President Jair Bolsonaro, on behalf of the entire Brazilian nation, presents his deepest condolences to the family and friends of the citizen murdered in Nice, as well as to the other victims, and extends his solidarity to the people and the French Government," the statement continued. 

The Brazilian government also expressed "its firm repudiation of any form of terrorism" and expressed "especially its solidarity with Christians and people of other faiths who suffer persecution and violence because of their beliefs."