Priest killed in French church, two attackers shot dead

Two attackers killed a priest and seriously wounded at least one other hostage in a church in northern France on Tuesday before they were shot dead by police, according to FRANCE 24.

President Francois Hollande said the assailants claimed to be from the Islamic State group.

The two assailants entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, during mass, taking the priest and four other people hostage, including two nuns.

Police said the men killed the priest, named as 84-year-old Jacques Hamel, by slitting his throat.

An interior ministry spokesperson said a second hostage was “between life and death”.

Pierre-Henry Brandet, the spokesperson for the interior ministry, said the identities of the attackers remained unclear, but that anti-terrorism prosecutors would lead the investigation. He told reporters at the scene that the two assailants had been killed by the BRI, a specialised police group, as they came out of the church building. Brandet said bomb squad officers aided by sniffer dogs had been scouring the church for any possible explosives.