Two men stormed a church in northern France Tuesday morning taking hostages, fatally stabbing an 85-year-old priest and critically injuring another, before police shot them dead.
The attackers entered the church during mass, wielding knives, and immediately jumped on the priest. Father Joly, a priest from a nearby parish, said “It’s an astonishingly strong symbol. It’s the moment when the priest is giving this act of love, that he is killed. It’s incomprehensible. They jumped on him with their knives.”
The Reverend Jacques Hamel, the church’s auxiliary priest, was stabbed to death around 9:45am, just before two nuns and three worshipers were held hostage. Two people were injured, one of which is in severe condition.
Special police teams surrounded the church pretty quickly after the initial breach, and shot the suspects as they exited the church.
President Francois Hollande believes the Islamic State was behind the attack, the latest in a series of assaults that have devastated Europe.
“We are facing a group, Daesh, that has declared war on us,” Mr. Hollande said, using an Arabic name for the Islamic State. “We must realize that the terrorists will not give up until we stop them. It is our will. The French must know that they are threatened, that we are not the only country, Germany is, as well as others, and that their strength lies in their unity.”
There is no confirmation of yet, if this was an ISIS attack. Places of worships, however, are advised to be on high alert.