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Priest stabbed live on TV at Canada’s biggest church

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A priest was stabbed in front of his congregation live on television during morning mass on Friday at Canada’s biggest church, police said.

Footage broadcast on a Catholic television station and picked up by the top-rated CTV network showed a man in jeans, a parka and a white baseball cap approach Claude Grou at St Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal.

He is seen chasing the priest around the altar and standing menacingly over Grou as he falls to the ground, scattering candles and a banner, before stabbing his victim.

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Witness Adele Plamondon, told public broadcaster Radio-Canada the priest was about to start reading the gospel, when “this man drew a knife and ran up to stab him.”

“I’d thought he was just going to kneel in front of the alter to pray, like many people do,” she said.

 AFP / Sebastien St-Jean Police provide security at Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal on March 22, 2019, after priest Claude Grou was stabbed

The suspect remained silent during the assault but appeared “very determined,” Plamondon added.

Grou recovered enough to get to his feet and is seen backing away as security officers surround the assailant, who drops his knife. Three guards restrained him while others tended to Grou, who appeared to be in shock.

The priest was taken to hospital, where his condition was said to be stable, with police reporting to AFP that he had been “slightly wounded in the upper body.”

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– ‘Horrible and inexcusable’ –

The suspect was due to be interrogated shortly, while the church has been cordoned off, with services expected to resume later in the day.

Police did not reveal a motive for the attack.

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 AFP / Sebastien St-Jean Journalist gather at Saint Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal on March 22, 2019, after Catholic priest Claude Grou was stabbed

Church spokeswoman Celine Barbeau said Grou was conscious when he was rushed from the scene.

“We are hopeful he will pull through.” she added.

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Mayor Valerie Plante called the assault a “horrible and inexcusable act that has no place in Montreal.”

Saint Joseph’s Oratory, built from 1920 to 1955, sits atop the north face of Mount Royal overlooking Canada’s second-largest metropolis, and attracts some two million pilgrims and tourists each year.

The national shrine was founded by Brother Andre Bessette, a central religious figure among French-Canadians, who was canonized by Pope Benedict in 2010 for his devotion to the sick and disabled.

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Jean-Francois Lefebvre, who was working in front of the oratory when the attack unfolded, said he saw police arrive and take away the suspect in handcuffs.

“I find this incident very unfortunate, in a place so peaceful that attracts millions of visitors,” he told AFP.

“With what happened in Christchurch, it seems that all places of worship are being targeted,” he added, referencing a gunman’s attack at two mosques in New Zealand last Friday that left 50 dead and 50 wounded.

In 2017, a shooter gunned down six worshippers at a mosque in Quebec City.

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Uber reveals thousands of reported sexual assaults in US

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Ridesharing leader Uber, under fire around the world for its safety record, said it had tallied nearly 6,000 sexual assaults in the United States over the past couple of years.

That included more than 450 cases of rape, according to Uber's first public report into the issue Thursday, which counts attacks by both passengers and drivers over 2017-18.

It also revealed 19 fatal assaults related to the company over the two-year period, when it averaged more than 3.1 million trips each day in the United States.

Sexual assaults were reported on 0.00002 percent of trips, Uber calculated.

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4 dead after US jewelry heist leads to carjacking, chase, shootout

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Two armed jewelry thieves trying to escape the scene of their heist on Thursday hijacked a delivery truck, took its driver hostage, then led police on a high-speed chase that ended in a deadly shootout, authorities in the US state of Florida said.

Four people were killed in the gunbattle on a busy street -- the two suspects, the driver of the United Parcel Service truck, and a bystander, FBI agent George Piro said.

The events began as two armed suspects robbed a jewelry store in Coral Gables, near Miami, late Thursday afternoon, Piro said.

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Merkel visits Auschwitz for first time

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Germany's Angela Merkel crossed the gates of the former Auschwitz Nazi death camp in Poland on Friday for the first time in her 14 years as chancellor, promising to battle a new wave of anti-Semitism.

Merkel is only the third chancellor ever to visit the Nazi German camp where a million Jews were killed between 1940 and 1945 and which has come to symbolize the Holocaust as a whole.

Her trip, which comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of the camp's liberation by Soviet troops on January 27, is being seen as an important political message.

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