An 84-year-old priest has been killed with a knife, and another person seriously wounded, after two men with alleged links to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, took several people hostage in an attack on a church in northern France.
Father Jacques Hamel reportedly had his throat slit on Tuesday before French police entered and shot dead the attackers, a French police source told the Reuters news agency.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the leader of the Roman Catholic Church had been particularly appalled by the “barbaric killing” that happened in a sacred place.
President Hollande reacts
French President Francois Hollande condemned the “vile terrorist attack” in a statement.
“We are put to the test yet again,” Hollande said. “The threat remains very high.”
The incident comes as France is under high alert after an attack in Nice that killed 84 people and a string of deadly attacks last year claimed by the IS group.
The Nice attack was the third major strike on France in 18 months. Two attacks in Germany claimed by the IS group since then have also increased jitters in Europe.
After the attack in Nice, France extended a state of emergency, giving police extra powers to carry out searches and place people under house arrest for another six months.