'Horror': ISIS Terrorists Slit Elderly Priest's Throat in Attack on French Church

Leah Barkoukis
|
Posted: Jul 26, 2016 7:40 AM
'Horror': ISIS Terrorists Slit Elderly Priest's Throat in Attack on French Church

Update: Hollande said ISIS is behind the attack, telling reporters it was carried out  "by two terrorists in the name of Daesh." 

BREAKING: French president suggests Islamic State group is behind church attack that left priest dead.

— The Associated Press (@AP) July 26, 2016

Update: The Vatican speaks out:

Pope Francis has condemned in the strongest terms the attack on a Roman Catholic church in northern France that left a priest dead and a worshipper critically wounded.

Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in a statement Tuesday that the attack hits particularly hard "because this horrific violence took place in a church, a sacred place in which the love of God is announced, and the barbaric murder of a priest and the involvement of the faithful."

Lombardi called the attack "more terrible news, that adds to a series of violence in these days that have left us upset, creating immense pain and worry."

The pope, he said, has expressed "pain and horror for this absurd violence, with the strongest condemnation for every form of hatred and prayer for those affected."

The Vatican expressed its closeness to the Roman Catholic Church in France and the Archdiocese of Rouen, as well as to the affected communities and the people of France.

Original Post: Two attackers seized five hostages in a church in the Normandy city of Rouen, killing a priest, 86-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, and seriously injuring at least one other person on Tuesday. 

A police source told Reuters it appeared the priest’s throat was slit, although Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet would not confirm this.

The two attackers stormed the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during a service at around 10am local time (9am BST), taking the priest, two nuns and several members of the congregation hostage.

The crisis continued for around an hour before the armed men were shot dead by police when they emerged in a courtyard outside the church.

Police said officers "neutralised" both attackers an operation near Rouen, Normandy, on Tuesday morning and a terror investigation has been launched.

"At one point, the two assailants came out of the church and that's when they were killed by the BRI elite force," Brandet told France Info radio, referring to the elite French police unit.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the attack "barbaric" on Twitter and said it was a blow to the whole of France and all Catholics.

"Horror. Everything is being done to trigger a war of religions," former conservative PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin tweeted.

It was only 12 days ago that 84 people were killed in Nice when a terrorist plowed his truck through a crowded street during Bastille Day.