Greek Orthodox Priest Seriously Injured in Suspected Terrorist Attack in France

Father Nikolaos Kakavelakis was seriously injured in the attack. Credit: Communauté Hellénique de Lyon/Facebook

Police are hunting a gunman who shot and seriously injured a Greek Orthodox priest in the French city of Lyon, French media have reported.

Father Nikolaos Kakavelakis, a Greek citizen, was fired on twice at around 4pm local time as he was closing the church in the city’s seventh arrondissement, a police source told FranceInfoTV. Reporters on the scene said they saw an injured man being stretchered from the building.

The French interior ministry said in a statement that police and emergency services were at the scene and advised passersby to avoid the area.

The attacker was on the run, police said. “He is a Mediterranean-type man measuring 1.90m, wearing a long black raincoat and a black hat. It seems he was hiding a sawn-off shotgun under his coat. He fired it in the direction of the orthodox priest and fled,” Ludovic Cassier of the police union Unité SGP Police told French radio.

Father Nikolaos Kakavelakis with members of the Greek community in Lyin. Credit: Communauté Hellénique de Lyon/Facebook

The shooting comes three days after a man armed with a knife killed three people in a church in Nice on the Côte d’Azur, and barely a fortnight after teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded outside his school 20 miles north-west of Paris.

The Lyon newspaper Le Progrès reported that 52-year-old Father Kakavelakis had been seriously injured in the attack. Neighbors in what was described as a quiet residential district told the paper they heard two shots, followed by screams of pain.

The victim was conscious when he was taken from the Greek Orthodox church on the rue du Père Chevrier to the ambulance, the paper reported, and able to tell witnesses he did not know the man who attacked him.