ISIS has claimed responsibility for another terror attack in France after two terrorists took five hostages inside a church and managed to behead a priest before being shot dead by French security forces.
Two Muslim terrorists seized hostages Tuesday in a church near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing a priest by slitting his throat before being shot and killed by police, French officials said.
Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen said the priest who was slain at the church in northwest France was 84-year-old Father Jacques Hamel.
“I cry out to God, with all men of good will. And I invite all non-believers to unite with this cry,” Lebrun wrote in a statement from Krakow, Poland, where Pope Francis was visiting. “The Catholic Church has no other arms besides prayer and fraternity between men.”
Another person inside the church was seriously injured and is hovering between life and death, Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.
Police managed to rescue three people from the church in the small northwestern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Brandet said. The hostage-taking occurred during morning Mass, he told reporters.
Authorities are so far maintaining that the motive of the attack is unclear, although it has all the markings of an Islamic State (ISIS) inspired attack.
Tuesday’s slaying inside a church “is obviously a drama for the Catholic community, for the Christian community,” Brandet told reporters.
French President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve were heading to the town.
Brandet, speaking on BFM TV, said the RAID special intervention force was searching the church and its perimeter for possible explosives and terrorism investigators had been summoned.
Islamic Terror Strikes at France Again
France is currently on high alert after an attack in Nice on Bastille Day — July 14 — that killed 84 people and a string of deadly attacks last year claimed by ISIS killed 147 others. France is also under a state of emergency and has extra police presence in the wake of the Nice attack in which a man barreled his truck down the city’s famed Promenade des Anglais, mowing down holiday crowds.
It was the first known attack inside a French church in recent times. Islamic State terrorists have urged followers to attack French churches and the group is believed to have planned at least one church attack earlier.
In April 2015, an Algerian student who was arrested after shooting himself in the leg was found with heavy weapons, bulletproof vests and documents linked to Islamic State. He is charged with killing a young woman inside her car the same day. According to French authorities, the suspect, Sid Ahmed Ghlam, was sent by the Belgian Abdelhamid Abaaoud to attack a church in Villejuif, just outside of Paris.
A cell directed by Abaaoud later carried out the November 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and the March 22 attacks in Brussels that killed 32 people.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff