Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Priest, 86, is 'beheaded' by two 'Islamic knifemen' after taking nuns and worshippers hostage at French church

An 86-year-old priest has been 'beheaded' by two 'ISIS' 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 Rouen in Normandy at 9am.

The clergyman, named as Jacques Hamel, is believed to have been beheaded during the attack while another hostage is 'hovering between life and death' in hospital.
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 two attackers have been 'neutralised' by elite marksmen in a dramatic police operation while the building is being searched for possible explosives. French president Francois Hollande said the men claimed to be from' ISIS.

There were reports the attackers shouted 'Daesh' – an alternative name for ISIS often used by the French government – as they ran into the church. 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.

It comes as it emerged that the place of worship was one of a number of Catholic churches on a terrorist 'hit list' found on a suspected ISIS extremist last April.
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
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 said: 'Evil attacks the weakest, denies truth and love, is defeated through Jesus Christ. 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.

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