Priest, 86, is 'beheaded' by two 'Islamic knifemen' after taking nuns and worshippers hostage at French church before police shoot them both dead and search building for explosives

  • Priest had throat cut after knifemen burst into Normandy church at 9am
  • Both attackers shot dead by police and another hostage is fighting for life
  • At least one knifeman was dressed in Islamic clothing, French media report
  • Vatican condemns 'barbaric' killing as anti-terror investigation is launched

  • An 86-year-old priest has been 'beheaded' by two 'Islamic' knifemen who cut his throat after bursting into a French church and taking nuns and worshippers hostage before being shot dead by police.
    Five people including the priest, two nuns and two parishioners were held by assailants who raided the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near the city of Rouen in Normandy at 9am.
    The clergyman, named as Jacques Hamel, is believed to have been beheaded during the attack while another hostage is fighting for their life in hospital. 
    The two attackers have been 'neutralised' by elite marksmen in a dramatic police operation while the building is being searched for explosives.
    At least one of the men was dressed in Islamic clothing, according to French media reports, and an anti-terrorist unit has already taken up the investigation.
    Scroll down for video
    A priest has been butchered by knifemen who cut his throat after bursting into a French church and taking hostages before being shot dead by police
    The clergyman, named as Jacques Hamel (pictured), was knifed to death during the attack while another hostage is fighting for their life in hosptial
    The clergyman, named as Jacques Hamel (pictured), was knifed to death during the attack while another hostage is fighting for their life in hosptial
    Units attending including the elite RAID, the anti-terrorist unit that was heavily involved in the Paris attacks last year, in which almost 150 people were murdered
    Units attending including the elite RAID, the anti-terrorist unit that was heavily involved in the Paris attacks last year, in which almost 150 people were murdered
    The clergyman was knifed to death during the attack while another hostage is fighting for their life in hosptial. The two attackers have been 'neutralised' by elite marksmen in a dramatic police operation
    Normandy: Emergency crews arrive as police shoot two knifemen
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    Pope Francis has expressed his 'pain and horror' at the incident with a spokesman saying the Pontiff was appalled by the 'barbaric killing' because it happened in a sacred place.
    The Archbishop of Canterbury Just Welby urged people to 'pray for France, for victims, for their communities'.
    Footage from the scene shows emergency crews, including elite police squads, arriving at the Church of the Gambetta and one person being stretchered into an ambulance.
    The clergyman, ordained in 1958, had his throat cut, said a spokesman for the Interior Ministry in Paris

  • The spokesman said the two men rushed into the church via a back entrance during a morning service, soon after 9am.
    The two men seized the priest, two sisters from a local order, and two parishioners, said the spokesman
    'A third nun escaped and raised the alarm, and anti-terrorists officers were on the scene within minutes,' said a source who lives locally.
    'It appears that the priest who was celebrating the service was attacked first, and had his throat cut.
    Normandy: Soldier on scene of church hostage situation
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    A priest, two nuns and two churchgoers were among those held after the men rushed into the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy, France, during a morning service, soon after 9am.
    A priest, two nuns and two churchgoers were among those held after the men rushed into the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy, France, during a morning service, soon after 9am.
    Between four and six people were being held by the assailants in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near the city of Rouen
    Between four and six people were being held by the assailants in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near the city of Rouen
    Police gather at scene of Normandy hostage taking in church
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    'The area around the church was sealed off, and then armed officers appeared with their weapons. I heard at least a dozen shots.'
    The siege officially ended at around 11am, following the shooting of the two attackers.
    Units attending including the elite RAID, the anti-terrorist unit that was heavily involved in the Paris attacks last year, in which almost 150 people were murdered.
    Anti-terrorist judges immediately opened an investigation in to today's attack, as President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve attended the scene. 
    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tweeted that he was 'horrified at the barbaric attack' adding: 'All France and all Catholics are bruised.'

    KILLING IS LATEST IN SPATE OF BLOODY ATTACKS ACROSS EUROPE

    Today's attack is the latest to hit Europe in what has been a summer of bloodshed on the continent:
    July 24: Festival suicide bombing - A failed Syrian asylum seeker set off an explosive device near an open-air music festival in the southern city of Ansbach that killed himself and wounded a dozen others.
    The 27-year-old had spent time in a psychiatric facility, while the regional authorities said an there was 'likely' a jihadist motive for the attack.
    However a spokesman for the interior ministry later said there was as yet 'no credible evidence' of a link to Islamic extremism.
    July 24: Knife attack - A Syrian refugee was arrested after killing a Polish woman with a large kebab knife at a snack bar in the southwestern city of Reutlingen, in an incident police said did not bear the hallmarks of a 'terrorist attack' and was more likely a crime of passion.
    Three people were also injured in the assault, which ended when the 21-year-old assailant was deliberately struck by a BMW driver, believed to be the snack bar owner's son, trying to stop the man.
    People mourn in front of candles and flowers near the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, southern Germany, where an 18-year-old German-Iranian student ran amok on a shooting spree on July 22
    People mourn in front of candles and flowers near the Olympia shopping mall in Munich, southern Germany, where an 18-year-old German-Iranian student ran amok on a shooting spree on July 22
    July 22: Munich mall mass shooting - David Ali Sonboly, 18, shot dead nine people at a Munich shopping mall before turning the gun on himself, having spent a year planning the rampage.
    Police said that the German-Iranian was 'obsessed' with mass killers like Norwegian right-wing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik and had no links to the Islamic State group.
    July 18: Train axe attack - A 17-year-old migrant wielding an axe and a knife went on a rampage on a regional train, seriously injuring four members of a tourist family from Hong Kong and a German passer-by.
    ISIS group subsequently released a video purportedly featuring the assailant, named by media as Riaz Khan Ahmadzai, announcing he would carry out an 'operation' in Germany, and presenting himself as a 'soldier of the caliphate'.
    He is believed to have been Afghan or Pakistani.
    July 14: Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people and injuring over 300. 
    The Nice attack was the third major strike on France in 18 months and was claimed by ISIS. 
    A number of shots were heard over a period of around 15 seconds as the incident came to an end. 
    Eulalie Garcia, who works in a beauty parlour, is on the same road as the church, and told reporters that she knew the 92-year-old priest, who had taught her the catechism as a young girl.
    'My family has lived here for 35 years and we have always known him,' she said. 'He was someone who was treasured by the community. He was very discreet and didn't like to draw attention to himself.'
    She said she was very shocked by the death of the priest, who lived opposite his church. 'It can happen to anyone,' she said.
    The area around the church remained cordoned off and the old town was out of bounds.
    Two men armed with knives took several people hostage at Church of the Gambetta (pictured) in France's northern Normandy region on Tuesday, a police source said
    Two men armed with knives took several people hostage at Church of the Gambetta (pictured) in France's northern Normandy region on Tuesday, a police source said
    The French Police Nationale gave no details about the situation but sent a Tweet urging media not to cross security tape at the scene or take pictures or video.  
    Saint-Etienne du Rouvray has a population of 30,000 and is around seven miles from Rouen.
    The incident comes as France is on high alert after a Bastille Day attack that killed 84 people in Nice and a series of deadly attacks last year claimed by ISIS. 
    France has been concerned about the threat against churches ever since a foiled plot against in the Paris suburb of Villejuif in April last year.
    Sid Ahmed Ghlam, a 24-year-old Algerian IT student, was arrested in Paris on suspicion of killing a woman who was found shot dead in the passenger seat of her car, and of planning an attack on a church.
    Prosecutors say they found documents about Al-Qaeda and IS at his home, and that he had been in touch with a suspected jihadist in Syria about an attack on a church.



    Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3708394/Two-men-armed-knives-people-hostage-French-church.html

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