Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

Attackers murder elderly priest in France

  • Policemen shot dead the two attackers (Photo: Reuters)

Two men have murdered an elderly priest in a Roman Catholic church in northern France in what is being investigated as a potential terrorist attack.

The men killed Jacques Hamel, 84, by slitting his throat after entering the church in Saint-Etienne du Rouveray, near Rouen, during mass and taking a small group of hostages, French media report.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Rouen: Archbishop Lebrun said "Catholic church cannot take up any other arms than prayer" (Photo: stibou5)

Local police then shot and killed the attackers. Three other people were also injured, one of whom is in critical condition.

The French authorities are treating the incident as a potential terrorist attack, with a bomb disposal squad dispatched to the scene to search for explosives.

Dominique Lebrun, the archbishop of Rouen, said in a statement that the local community was “shocked”.

“The Catholic church cannot take up any other arms than prayer and human fraternity,” he said.

The archbishop was attending a Catholic youth rally in Poland, and urged young people to become “apostles of the civilisation of love”.

He said he would return from Poland immediately.

French president Francois Hollande and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve also said they were travelling to the crime scene.

Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, said on social media that he was “horrified” by the “barbaric” attack and that all of France stood together with the victims.

French foreign minister Jean-March Ayrault also said France “remained united to face the horror”.

France’s EU commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he was “revolted” and voiced “solidarity with the church and all Catholics”.

The identities of the attackers and their motives were unknown.

But Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-immigrant National Front party, said “the modus operandi obviously causes fear of a new attack by Islamic terrorists”.

The jihadist Islamic State group, based in Syria and Iraq, was responsible for an attack in Paris last November that claimed 130 lives.

Tuesday's killing comes shortly after a French man of Tunisian origin killed 84 people by driving a lorry into a crowd in Nice, southern France on Bastille Day, a national holiday.

It also comes after a string of attacks in Germany in recent days - two of them by asylum seekers from Afghanistan and Syria, and one by a German of Iranian origin who admired a far-right killer, the Norwegian Anders Breivik.

More 'lone wolf' attacks expected, says Germany

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said the Afghan teenager who knifed passengers on a train is a "lone wolf" terrorist, with more attacks of the same type likely.

Hollande: French people ‘under threat’

The “threat” of further attacks remained “high” in France and in Germany, French leader Francois Hollande has said after Islamic State claimed responsibility for murdering a Catholic priest.

Feature

Widow's plea as EU diplomats debate Magnitsky Act

"If evil is not defeated, it tends to expand", Natalia Magnitsky, the widow of a Russian anti-corruption activist, has said, as EU diplomats discuss human rights sanctions 10 years after his death.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  2. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  3. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears
  4. Finland: EU 'not brain dead' on enlargement
  5. The labour market is not ready for the future
  6. Parliament should have 'initiation' role
  7. AI skewed to young, male, and western EU, report warns
  8. US and EU go separate ways on Israeli settlers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us