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World News

Saudi man arrested in Jeddah after knife attack on guard at French consulate

DUBAI (Reuters) - A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on Thursday, local police said.

A statement from the Mecca region’s police said the guard suffered “minor injuries” and that “legal action” was being taken against the perpetrator.

The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger.

“The French Embassy strongly condemns this attack against a diplomatic outpost which nothing could justify,” it said in a statement.

The attack occurred after a knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the French city of Nice earlier in the day. Nice’s mayor described the attack as terrorism.

The Saudi foreign ministry condemned the Nice attack, tweeting: “The kingdom categorically rejects such extremist acts, which contravene all religions, human beliefs and common sense, while stressing the importance of avoiding all practices which generate hatred, violence and extremism.”

France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of a school teacher by a man of Chechen origin. The attacker had said he wanted to punish the teacher for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson.

Since Samuel Paty’s killing, French officials have reasserted the right to display the cartoons as a matter of free expression, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the teacher.

That has stirred anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing French President Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda.

Saudi Arabia on Tuesday condemned cartoons offending the Prophet Mohammad, but held back from echoing calls by other Muslim states for action against images of the Prophet being shown in France.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai and Raya Jalabi in Beirut; Writing by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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