Attackers killed after taking hostages in French church

by Wade Massey July 27, 2016, 8:25

Two knife-wielding attackers who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, shouting "Allahu Akbar", slit the throat of an 86-year-old priest and critically wounded at least one other person during a Tuesday morning terror attack on a Catholic church near the Normandy city of Rouen, officials said.

The attackers, who were not immediately identified, entered through the back door of the church and took the priest, two nuns and two parishioners hostage during morning Mass, police said.

Father Jacques Hamel was reportedly forced to kneel on the altar before the terrorists had his throat slit on Tuesday.

In a televised address to the nation Tuesday, he denounced the attack, adding that "to attack a church, kill a priest, is to profane the republic".

France remains on high alert almost two weeks after Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, killing 84 people and injuring over 300.

A statement from the IS-affiliated Amaq news agency said that the attack had been carried out by "two soldiers of the Islamic State".

He was sent by Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who directed a cell which carried out the 13 November attacks in Paris during which 130 people were killed and the 22 March attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people. Eighty-four people were killed, and over 200 were injured.

The attacker was detained the first time in Germany, while he was on his way to Syria, the source close to the probe said.

Neil Basu, the UK's Deputy Assistant Police Commissioner, said: "There is no specific intelligence relating to attacks against the Christian community in the UK".

French President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve were heading to the town.

"In the face of this threat that has never been greater in France and Europe, the government is absolutely determined (to defeat) terrorism", Hollande said in a televised address. "We have to fight this war with every means".

The slain priest was Jacques Hamel, 84, Archbishop of Rouen Dominique Lebrun said in a statement.

One report suggested the two men had fired as they tried to escape but if later claims are accurate that their single gun did not work, then the gunshots heard by local residents were fired only by the police.

"We are particularly shocked because this awful violence took place in a church in which God's love is announced", Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

Mr Hollande directly linked the "despicable terrorist attack" to Islamic State, saying "over the past few days and the past few years we have been facing IS, who have declared war against us".

Far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is also expected to run for the presidency, said both Sarkozy's and Hollande's parties had failed on security.

ISIS is claiming responsibility for beheading a French priest in a terrorist attack in Normandy.

"What the terrorists want is to divide us, separate us, to tear us apart. We commend French law enforcement for their quick and decisive response and stand ready to assist the French authorities in their investigation going forward", Price said.

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