London: French police on Tuesday said that a priest has been killed in the Normandy region of northern France after two men armed with knives took hostages in a church before being shot dead.
Reports suggest that the priest’s throat had been slit.
Besides the slain priest, two nuns and two churchgoers had been taken hostage, CNN French affiliate BFMTV reported.
A French interior ministry spokesman said a second hostage was in a critical condition, reports the Guardian.
Earlier today, five people reportedly a priest, two nuns and two worshippers were taken hostage by the assailants in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.
According to French media one of the hostages managed to escape and raised the alarm.
The Paris prosecutor’s office has said that the motivations for the hostage-taking were not yet clear but the case had been handed to anti-terrorism judges for investigation.
Meanwhile, French President, François Hollande, and the Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve were en route to Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray.
Condemning the incident, Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, said the attack was a blow to all Catholics and the whole of France.
He tweeted, “We will stand together.”
Even the Vatican reacted and said it was a “barbaric killing” made even more heinous because it happened in a sacred place.
The incident comes under a fortnight after the Nice attack, where an Isis supporter drove a lorry into crowds celebrating Bastille Day which left 84 people dead and more than 300 injured.
Since the Islamic State’s bombings and shootings in Paris last November, France has been on high alert.
The Nice attack was the third major strike on France in 18 months.