An 84-year-old priest was killed and one of his parishioners critically injured after two men armed with knives burst into a French church during a service on Wednesday and took several people hostage in an ISIS-related attack.
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) July 26, 2016
The two attackers were shot to death by France’s elite police anti-crime force. The injured parishioner remains in critical condition, “between life and death,” according to the interior ministry.
According to media reports, the two men shouted out the word “Daesh” upon entering the church. “Daesh” is the Arabic word for ISIS, or the Islamic State.
French president Francois Hollande confirmed that the assailants had pledged allegiance to ISIS, and the terror caliphate’s personal news agency, Amaq, quickly released a statement claiming the men as its own.
“They carried out the operation in response to the call to target the countries of the crusader coalition,” the ISIS statement read.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the attack “barbaric”, a sentiment echoed by the Vatican, which labeled the murder of Father Hamel a “barbarous killing.”
The terrorists stormed the church, located near Normandy in the northern French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, during morning mass. They took a five hostages and killed the priest, Jacques Hamel, by slitting his throat, said police reports.
— Voice of Europe (@V_of_Europe) July 26, 2016
The attack comes at a time of high tension in France, where less than two weeks ago 84 people were killed in a terror attack in Nice when a Muslim man drove his truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day. ISIS also claimed responsibility for that attack.
In neighboring Germany, a number of attacks have rocked the country in recent days. On Friday, German-Iranian Ali Sonoboly opened fire at a Munich mall, killing nine. On Sunday, twelve people were injured when a Syrian refugee detonated a bomb in a restaurant in Ansbach. Also on Sunday, a machete attack by a Syrian migrant left one woman dead and two others injured, though it is unclear if the attack was terror-related.