Three French soldiers guarding a Jewish community centre in downtown Nice, southern France, have been attacked by a knife-wielding man.,

The men, who were slightly wounded in the attack, received assistance from the emergency services. One soldiers was injured in the arms and another one in the face.

The attacker, allegedly named Moussa Coulibaly, has been arrested by Nice police department, which added that his motive is not yet known. A justice department investigation has been launched into the attack.

Coulibaly is the same surname as the attacker at the kosher supermarket in Paris, Amedy Coulibaly, that left four people killed.

Sarah Baron, a union official, told AP that two other people with the attacker fled the scene.

Patrols guarding Jewish schools and embassies have been stepped up across the country following the deadly Paris shooting that left 17 people killed at the headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and at a kosher deli.

The military were on guard in front of a building housing the Jewish consistory of Nice, Radio Shalom and an Israeli association.

The mayor of the city Christian Estrosi praised police and passerby for their "courage" in arresting the attacker. He also called on the government to maintain military presence in Nice.