Two men armed with knives took several people hostage in a church in a town in France’s northern Normandy region on Tuesday, a police source said. The source said between four and six people were being held by the assailants in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. As per Sky News, a priest is also amongst those being held hostage.
Local reports said that the two attackers stormed the church during a service, taking the priest, two nuns and several members of the congregation hostage. Interior Minister Bernard Cazenevue is en route to the town of Saint-Etienne-en-Rouvray where the hostage-taking took place, according to the official, who was not authorized to be publicly named.
LIVE UPDATES (All timings are in IST):
10.53pm: US condemns attack on French church, offers assistance
10:52pm: Muslim leader mourns slain priest ‘friend’ in France
07.18pm: French police have arrested one person in connection with the knife attack in a church in northern France
05.41 pm: Islamic State says church attack in France was carried out by two ‘soldiers’ from the group, reports Associated Press.
05.37 pm: International security expert Olivier Guitta says the attack in Normandy was harder to stop than the attack in Nice.
05.27 pm: According to authorities, the priest whose throat was cut, was 84-yrs old and had been working in the church for the past 10 years.
05.10 pm: France President Hollande slams ‘vile terrorist attack’ on church, says the attackers ‘claimed to be from’ Islamic State group.
05.00 pm: President Hollande says France is faced with a group that have “declared war” and wants to “divide us”
President Hollande says the “terrorists will not give up on anything as long as we don’t stop them” https://t.co/vMj8l8P6nS
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 26, 2016
4.00 pm: Two attackers, 1 hostage killed at Normandy church.
03.40 pm: French Prime Minister Manuel Valls expresses ‘horror at barbaric attack on church’
03.26 pm: France’s anti-terrorist prosecution unit said on Tuesday it had taken over the investigation into an attack at a church in Normandy, northern France, after police said a priest had been killed by two hostage takers who were later shot dead.
03.23 pm: Ministry reports that the second hostage is currently fighting for life, more details are awaited.
03.11 pm: The killed hostage has been identified as the priest. He was killed with a blade, a police source told Reuters on Tuesday. The source said it looked like the priest had had his throat slit.
03.04 pm: France interior minister Spox confirms that one hostage has been killed, while one remains wounded. Both hostage takers have been killed by special forces.
02.58 pm: France 24 reports that the priest that was held hostage has been killed, while 1 person is seriously injured
02.57 pm: President Hollande and French Interior Minister head to scene after hostage-taking in church.
02.51 pm: One hostage has been killed after two knifemen took hostages in a church in Normandy, reports Sky News
02.40 pm: French official says police surrounding church in France suburb of Rouen after assailants seized hostages.
02.37 pm: French media has reported that the two men have been shot dead after taking hostages in a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy.
02.36 pm: Two assailants ‘neutralised’ after hostage-taking in French church: Ministry.
Reuters and AFP confirm two “assailants” have been “neutralised” https://t.co/GMYqZoFTb1
— Sky News (@SkyNews) July 26, 2016
02.34 pm: French newspaper Figaro reports 2 armed men have taken 5 hostages in the church near Rouen in northern France.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brandet confirmed one of the hostages had been killed and said another was critical. French President Francois Hollande was on his way to the site of the attack.
“Horror. Everything is being done to trigger a war of religions,” tweeted Jean-Pierre Raffarin, a former conservative prime minister who now heads the Senate’s foreign affairs committee.