News & Politics

ISIS Attackers Target Catholic Church, Slit Priest's Throat During Mass

A French soldiers stands guard as he prevents the access to the scene of an attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, France, Tuesday, July 26, 2016. Two attackers invaded a church Tuesday during morning Mass near the Normandy city of Rouen, killing an 84-year-old priest by slitting his throat and taking hostages before being shot and killed by police, French officials said. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Knife-wielding ISIS attackers took hostages at a Catholic Church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, and slit the throat of an 84-year-old  priest during mass.

In the latest Islamist atrocity to roil France, an 84-year-old Catholic priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, was killed when two men stormed the church in the northern region of Normandy, Dominique Lebrun, the Archbishop of Rouen, said in a statement posted on the diocese website.

President Francois Hollande called the attack a “cowardly assassination” and said it was carried out by “by two terrorists in the name of Daesh.”

Besides the slain priest, two nuns and two churchgoers had been taken hostage, CNN French affiliate BFMTV reported.

One of the hostages was seriously wounded, and is “between life and death,” French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told reporters.

The situation ended when the two attackers were shot dead by police, he said. “The two killers came out and they were neutralized,” he said.

“Daesh has declared war on us, we must fight this war by all means, while respecting the rule of law, what makes us a democracy,” he told reporters at the scene.

The Vatican condemned the attack as a “barbarous killing.”

“We are particularly shocked because this horrible violence took place in a church, in which God’s love is announced,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi added.

Lombardi said the pope was feeling “the pain and horror of this absurd violence” and “condemned in the most radical way any form of hate.”

“At one point, the two assailants came out of the church and that’s when they were killed by the BRI elite force,” Brandet told France Info radio.

The Normandy attack comes only 12 days the Bastille Day ISIS attack which left 84 people dead and hundreds injured.