Two terrorists allied with the Islamic State stormed into a Catholic church in northern France during the midst of the celebration of Mass. They took hostages and then cut the throat of the 86-year-old priest in the church. A team of police trained in special weapons and techniques came to the scene and shot the two militants to death. Bomb disposal units are on hand, seeking any possible explosive devices left behind by the attackers. Two of the hostages were nuns.
In Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, about 35 miles southeast of the port of Le Havre in Normandy, French soldiers are patrolling the narrow streets near the church where the martyrdom took place. Mourners are gathering at the little church. One of the hostages who survived the assault is being treated for life-threatening injuries, said Pierre-Henry Brandet.
Ever since Bastille Day – July 14 – France has remained under a state of emergency due to the deadly attack in Nice that claimed the lives of 84 people at the hands of a Tunisian of long residence in France. More than 100 were wounded.
French President Francois Hollande said France will use “all means” necessary to combat the Islamic State. He did not give details on possible new domestic measures or a possible of expansion of French support for the U.S.-led coalition currently waging airstrikes against the Islamic State strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
An official at the Archdiocese of Rouen identified the slain priest as Fr. Jacques Hamel.
A report by the Islamic State’s official Amaq news agency described the assailants as “soldiers” of the Muslim cause, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. It was not clear whether they had any direct contact with the Islamic State, which controls huge swaths of Iraq and Syria.