Priest, hostage-takers killed in France church attack

Paris, July 26 (IANS) A priest and both the hostage-takers were killed in an attack by two men armed with knives at a church near Rouen in northern France, police said.

The armed men entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during Mass, taking the priest, two nuns and several churchgoers hostage, BBC reported.

French TV said shots had been heard after police arrived at the scene. Both hostage-takers were dead.

At least one person was receiving medical treatment for injuries.

The area has been cordoned off.

A woman who works in a local beauty parlour, Eulalie Garcia, said she had known the 92-year-old priest since her childhood.

“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.”

There was no immediate indication of the identity or motive of the hostage-takers.

France has been on high alert since the July 14 attack in Nice, when a man ploughed a heavy duty white truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 people and injuring over 200 others.

The Nice attack was carried out by Tunisian man, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who was not a known jihadist but Islamic State militant group said he had acted in response to its calls to target civilians in countries that have been attacking it.

President Francois Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve were on their way to Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray to be briefed by the police.

The investigation into the incident will be led by anti-terrorism prosecutors, the interior ministry has said.

–IANS

py/vt

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