ISIS terrorists have apparently raided a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in Normandy, France -committing executions and holding hostages.
A 84-year-old clergyman, named as Jacques Hamel, is believed to have been beheaded during the attack, according to Daily Mail. Police told the BBC, it appeared the attackers had slit the priest’s throat with a knife.
“I cry out to God with all men of goodwill. I would invite non-believers to join in the cry,” said the Archbishop of Rouen, Dominique Lebrun. “The Catholic Church cannot take weapons other than those of prayer and brotherhood among men.”
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, said that Pope Francis was horrified at the “barbaric killing” of a priest and issued “the most severe condemnation of all forms of hatred,” according to the New York Times.
President Francois Hollande said the men claimed to be from so-called Islamic State (IS).
He said the attackers had committed a “cowardly assassination” and France would fight IS “by all means,” while speaking in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.
The attackers are believed to have entered the church during or near the end of Mass. NYT reports, the church’s Tuesday Mass begins at 9 a.m. and lasts for about half an hour; at 11:15 a.m. police said that the crisis was over.
French interior ministry spokesman, Pierre-Henri Brandet, said one of the hostages had been critically wounded. In addition to Jacques Hamel, four others were taken hostage – two nuns and two parishioners were held by assailants, according to Daily Mail.
French TV reports the hostage-takers were killed with gunfire by the police. It was also reported that one of that one of the attackers was known to French intelligence services. This attack is the fourth major terrorist attack in France in nineteen months.
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