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French church attack

France has again been stunned by a jihadist attack, after knife-wielding men burst in to a church, slit an elderly priest’s throat and took hostages.
Two men entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen, during morning mass at about 09:25 local time.
Inside was the priest – 86-year-old Father Jacques Hamel – as well as three nuns and two parishioners, according to prosecutor Francois Molins.
One of the nuns, Sister Danielle, said the men, armed with knives, forced the priest to his knees before cutting his throat.
“They recorded it,” she told French radio. “It was like they were performing a sermon in Arabic around the altar. It was horrific.”
While they were attacking the priest, Sister Danielle was able to escape and raise the alarm.
When police arrived they tried to negotiate with the attackers, whom Mr Molins said had lined up three hostages in front of the door as human shields to prevent police storming the church.
The three – two nuns and one parishioner – exited the church, followed by the attackers, one of whom was carrying a gun, who charged police shouting “Allahu akbar”, Mr Molins added. The pair were shot dead by police.
One of the attackers had fake explosives in a backpack. It would take hours for police to ensure the area was safe.
The attackers were : So-called (ISIS) said two of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.
One of the perpetrators has been named as 19-year-old Adel Kermiche.
He was known to security services, Mr Molins said, having twice been arrested trying to reach Syria to join IS.
Kermiche was barred from leaving his local area and was wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet when he died. However the bracelet was deactivated for a few hours each morning, Mr Molins added.
Kermiche lived in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray with his parents.
A schoolmate of his described Kermiche as a normal teen who became radicalised after the 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine.
“We tried to reason with him, but every time we tried to reason with him he would reply with some verse from the Koran, he would invent things,” Redwan told the Reuters news agency.
The other attacker is still being identified, while another suspect has been detained, thought to be in his teens and the younger brother of someone wanted by the authorities for trying to travel to Iraq or Syria.

The victims were :Those who knew Jacques Hamel have described a kind and generous man. He was semi-retired, and was filling in for the regular priest, Father Auguste Moanda-Phuati, at the time of the attack.

Born in 1930 in Darnetal, Seine-Maritime, Hamel was ordained in 1958 and celebrated his golden jubilee – 50 years of priesthood – in 2008, according to the parish website.
“He was a man who was always there for others,” Philippe Maheut, the vicar general who helps oversee the parish, told France 24.
“He was not responsible for the parish, but he was always on hand to celebrate baptisms, marriages, funerals and to meet people. He was someone who was very active.”
Mohammed Karabila, the president of Normandy’s Regional Council of the Muslim Faith, who worked with Father Hamel on an interfaith committee, described him as “a man of peace” who “dedicated his life to his ideas and religion”.
One of the worshippers in the church at the time was also badly wounded. They have not been identified.

Vowing to fight ISIS “using all means possible”, French President Francois Hollande said: “To attack a church, kill a priest, is to profane the republic.”
But with France already on high alert following the Bastille Day lorry attack in Nice, his opponents have accused the government of not doing enough to keep French citizens safe.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, expected to bid again to lead France, said the government needed to “thoroughly change” its strategy against ISIS.

The leader of the far-right National Front Marine Le Pen, who is also expected to run for the presidency, said both men’s parties had failed on security, tweeting that it was “revolting” to see them argue.
The fact that the attackers targeted a church fulfils grim threats against what IS terms “crusaders”, and for some marks a dangerous first for Islamist militancy.
“What we have seen is people who are remotely radicalised, becoming remotely operationalised, and selecting targets that hitherto we thought they wouldn’t do so,” Haras Rafiq from the anti-extremism think-tank, The Qulliam Foundation, told the BBC.
“They have selected a target that is going to be virtually impossible to defend and patrol in the western world.”

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