A Greek Orthodox priest was shot Saturday while he was closing his church in the French city of Lyon, and authorities locked down part of the city to hunt for the assailant, police said. The priest, a Greek citizen, is in a local hospital with life-threatening injuries after being hit in the abdomen, a police official told the AP. The attacker was alone and fired from a hunting rifle, said the official, who was not authorized to be publicly named. Police cordoned off the largely residential neighborhood around the church and warned the public on social networks to stay away. As night fell on Lyon, an AP reporter saw police tape and emergency vehicles throughout the neighborhood. National police tweeted that "a serious public security incident" was under way.
The reason for the shooting was unclear. It happened two days after an Islamic extremist knife attack at a Catholic church in the French city of Nice that killed three people, and amid ongoing tensions over a French newspaper's publication of caricatures mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. French anti-terrorist authorities were not investigating Saturday's shooting, although the interior minister activated a special emergency team to follow the case while the gunman was still at large. Prime Minister Jean Castex reiterated government promises to deploy military forces at religious sites and schools. He said French people can "count on the nation to allow them to practice their religion in full safety and freedom." (Read about a teacher beheaded near Paris.)