A priest was killed by two-knife wielding attackers as they attacked Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray church in Normandy, France – during a mass. The attackers took several people hostage. French Police confirmed that the 84-year-old priest Jacques Hamel’s throat was slit with a blade. Another victim is said to be “fighting for life.”
Witnesses say gun shots were heard after police arrived at the scene, the area was cordoned off while the attackers were neutralized and are now confirmed dead. At least five people were reportedly taken hostage by the attackers. The calamity lasted for about an hour before the armed men were gunned down when they came out of the church.
The French interior ministry stated that the murdered man was among nuns and worshipers who were taken hostage on July 26, Tuesday morning. The ministry further stated that the second victim was in a life-threatening condition, while three other hostages were freed unharmed. The motivations for the hostage-taking are not yet clear.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed his horror at the “barbaric attack.” “The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded. We will stand together,” he wrote on Twitter. French President Francois Hollande has arrived at the scene, while there were news of the Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on his way to the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, officials confirmed. AT the same time, the Vatican in a statement termed the death of the priest a “barbarous killing.”