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Suspect arrested in Lyon after attack on Orthodox priest

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A woman walks past the Greek Orthodox church after a priest was shot Saturday Oct.31, 2020
A woman walks past the Greek Orthodox church after a priest was shot Saturday Oct.31, 2020   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani
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A suspect has been arrested after the shooting of a Greek Orthodox priest outside his church in the French city of Lyon.

The priest, who was shot at around 16h CET on Saturday, is in a serious condition, police sources told AFP news agency. Police originally said the gunman was on the run.

A person that corresponded to the description given by witnesses is now in police custody, according to the the public prosecutor of Lyon, Nicolas Jacquet. But the suspect was not carrying a gun at the time of the arrest.

At this stage of the investigation, the motive is still unknown but it comes three days after an Islamic extremist killed three people in a church in Nice.

Police quickly secured the area in the 7th district of Lyon near Jean Macé metro station, asking people to clear the area.

"Serious events just occurred in Lyon. I do not yet have precise elements about the circumstances about this act. The interior minister will activate the crisis centre. And I will immediately go to Paris to learn more about the situation," French Prime Minister Jean Castex said at a press conference.

Castex repeated the government's plan to place extra security near schools, religious sites and public spaces following the incident in Nice and a teacher's beheading outside of Paris.

"You can count on the entire determination of the government and the Republic to allow every person to practice their religion in safety and freely," Castex added.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted on Saturday: "Contrary to what I have heard and seen a lot on social media in recent days, our country has no problem with any religion. They all practice freely! No stigma: France is committed to peace and living together."

European Council President Charles Michel was quick to weigh in on the incident, tweeting "we condemn this new abominable act in Lyon. All of our thoughts are with the priest who is in a serious condition."

"In Europe, the freedom of conscience is guaranteed for all and must be respected, violence is intolerable and must be condemned."