A WOMAN and a man have been beheaded in a suspected terror attack outside a church in France, according to media reports.
Several people were reportedly stabbed and a third person is also said to have died in the attack at Notre Dame church in Nice, south of France.
Armed police are reported to have swooped and shot the suspect, who is reported to have been arrested.
Actu17 cites unnamed sources that two of the victims were beheaded the attack.
The National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutors Office confirmed they have launched an investigation.
It comes amid heightened security fears in France amid the ongoing row over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo.
Nice mayor Christian Estrosi tweeted: "I confirm that everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Notre-Dame Basilica."
He added: "Our country can no longer be satisfied with the laws of peace to destroy Islamo-fascism."
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted: "A police operation is in progress.
"Avoid the area and follow the instructions."
He announced he has called a "crisis meeting" in response to the attack.
A local police spokesman said: "A man has been arrested at the scene after being shot by police.
"At least two people dead and others injured."
France has provoked the ire of Iran and Turkey as it has taken a tough line in defending the cartoons of the prophet.
Samuel Paty, 47, was beheaded by 18-year-old Abdullah Anzorov on October 17 after using the cartoons to teach his students about the importance of free speech.
He was was posthumously given the Legion d'Honneur – France’s highest award – and French president Emmanuel Macron insisted the country would "not give up our cartoons".
Prophet Mohammed cartoons have been displayed in France in solidarity with Paty to defend what many in the country see as its values of free speech and secularism.
Macron has said he would redouble efforts to stop conservative Islamic beliefs subverting French values – which has angered many Muslims.
France has launched a crackdown on what it perceives to be radical Islam, announcing it has searched more than 120 homes and closed down a mosque in Pantin.
Paty, a history and geography teacher, is being seen as a champion of free speech by many in France after his brutal death.
The image he showed to students was the same one published by Charlie Hebdo that sparked the attack on the magazine's offices that killed 12.
Nine people – including members of the attacker's family – have been arrested over his death.
His killing came after another knife attack near the former offices of Charlie Hebdo just weeks prior – in which the suspect is believed to have tried to target the magazine.
Yesterday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani warned the row over the cartoons could lead to "violence and bloodshed".
He said: "It's a surprise that this would come from those claiming culture and democracy, that they would somehow, even if unintentionally, encourage violence and bloodshed."
Rouhani added: "Westerners must understand the great Prophet of Islam is loved by all Muslims and freedom-lovers of the world.
"Insulting the Prophet is insulting all Muslims. Insulting the Prophet is insulting all prophets, human values, and amounts to undermining ethic."
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