Jihadists storm church in France; slit priest's throat in front of altar

by Gregory Tomlin, |
Members of French special police forces Research and Intervention Brigade (BRI) are seen during a raid after a hostage-taking in the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in Normandy, France, July 26, 2016. A priest was killed with a knife and another hostage seriously wounded in an attack on a church that was carried out by assailants linked to Islamic State. | REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

ROUEN, France (Christian Examiner) – A Catholic priest was murdered in his church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy in front of several members of the congregation by jihadists who stormed the church and took hostages during the early morning hours, the UK's Daily Mail has reported. 

According to witnesses, two Arabic men shouting "Allahu Akbar" or "God is great" – the rally cry of the Islamic State and other jihadist groups – burst into the church around 9 a.m., during the morning hours of prayer. 

The men then forced the priest Jacques Hamel, 84, to kneel. He was forced to "perform a sermon in Arabic," one witness said, before the attackers cut his throat. Hamel, who was subbing for another priest, died immediately. Another churchgoer was also injured.

The men reportedly filmed themselves killing the priest. It is not known if that video was uploaded to the Internet before police arrived and shot and killed the jihadists as they exited the church.

One of the men, a 19-year-old who had tried to go to Syria to join militants there, was already under surveillance by the police and wearing an electronic monitoring device. Under the terms of his bail, he was allowed to be unsupervised between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

According to the paper, French president Francois Hollande said France is 'at war' with ISIS, which claimed responsibility for the murder.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president, said France's response to the attack should be "merciless."  Former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said he believed ISIS was doing all it could to "to trigger a war of religions."

A third man was arrested in connection with the attack. 

To read the full article in the Daily Mail, click here.