An elderly Catholic priest was killed and many, including at least two nuns and several daily mass-goers, were taken hostage as two knife-wielding terrorists reportedly yelling “Allah Akbar” stormed the morning Mass while wielding knives.
84-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, was killed by the attackers at Saint Etiennce’s in the town of Saint Etienne du Rouvray. The attackers themselves were killed by police upon attempting to leave the church.
ISIS has reportedly declared responsibility for the attack. In response, President Francois Hollande stated ISIS had declared war on France.
Disturbingly, it had been reported that one of the terrorists was already a “convicted terrorist” who was supposedly being tracked with an electronic tag and was supposed to be living with his parents. According to reports, he was allowed to leave the home in the mornings from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The morning Mass began at 9 a.m.
The only reason police were alerted to the violence is that one of the nuns was able to escape from the Church and sounded the alarm.
Father Jacques Hamel was reportedly ordained in 1958 and had served as the parish priest there for two decades. He was described as a “treasure” who “didn’t like to draw attention to himself.”
A spokesperson for the Vatican condemned the incident as a “barbarous killing”.
President Hollande said: “We are facing a group Daesh that has declared war. We have to fight this war by all means necessary…What these terrorists want to do is to divide us. For all the Catholics in France I am thinking of them…We are facing yet another trial and the threat levels are extremely high and will remain extremely high.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls tweeted, “All of France and her Catholic citizens have been wounded. We stand in solidarity.”
This attack comes less than two weeks after the terrorist attack at Nice in which 84 people were killed.
We should all pray.