An 86-year-old Roman Catholic priest was killed in the French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Tuesday, when two attackers slit his throat during a morning Mass service. The attackers were subsequently shot and killed by police. The town is near the larger city of Rouen, in the Normandy region of France.
Pierre Henri Brandet, a spokesman for the ministry of the interior, said another hostage was “between life and death.”
Sky News reports that the name of the slain priest was Jacques Hamel, a local priest serving 20 communities, and that the two attackers shouted “Allahu akbar,” translated as “God is great,” during the course of the murder.
The attackers came in through the back door of the church and took the priest, two nuns and two parishioners hostage, before killing the priest. They were subsequently killed by police.
French President Francois Hollande, who came to the scene himself Tuesday, said the attackers claimed to be members of the Islamic State group. He criticized the event as a “vile terrorist attack.” Hollande assailedthe “cowardly assassination” and said France would fight the Islamic State group “by all means.”
“The two hostage-takers came out of the church armed and it was at that point that they were neutralized by the police,” Minister Pierre-Henry Brandet told French TV channel BFMTV, Brandet said Tuesday’s attack “is obviously a drama for the Catholic community, for the Christian community.” France is a heavily Catholic country, approximately 63 to 66 percent of the population.
Pope Francis expressed his “pain and horror” Tuesday at the attack and said he was appalled at the “barbaric killing.”
France has been in a state of emergency since the July 14 Bastille Day truck attack in Nice that killed 85. The country has seen a rash of attacks in recent years, including the November 2015 Paris attacks that killed 137, and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine that killed 12 in January 2015.
Source: US News