Jacques Hamel, who was killed Tuesday, celebrates Mass in June in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy. HO / AFP - Getty Images
An elderly priest was assassinated as he conducted Mass at a church in France early Tuesday, July 26, 2016, by some suspected Islamic extremists.
The incident happened when two knife-wielding attackers linked to ISIS took several nuns and worshippers hostage.
The siege ended when the hostage-takers were “neutralized” at the church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, police said. Another hostage was critically injured.
French president Francois Hollande, blamed the “cowardly acts” on ISIS-linked terrorists.
The victim was named by Archbishop of Rouen Dominique Lebrun as Rev. Jacques Hamel, 86. “I cry out to God,” Lebrun said in a statement.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was horrified by the “barbaric” attack.
The killing is being investigated by anti-terrorism police, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters. “A person was assassinated and another seriously injured,” he said.
Brandet confirmed that the hostage-taking occurred during morning Mass, adding that police managed to rescue three people from the church.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said one person had been detained, but gave no details about their identity or location, The Associated Press reported.
A nun who was in the church said Hamel was forced to the ground before his throat was slit. “They forced him to his knees. He wanted to defend himself. And that’s when the tragedy happened,” said the nun, identified as Sister Danielle.
“They recorded themselves. They did a sort of sermon around the altar, in Arabic. It’s a horror,” she told BFM television.
Hollande and interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, traveled to the town, which is located near Rouen in Normandy.
Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said in a statement on 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.”


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