Monday

25th Sep 2017

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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • 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.

Hungary and Poland defy EU authority

Hungary and Poland have said they "don't want a mixed population", amid a tug-of-war with the Commission on migrants and rule of law.

EU agency to fight election hacking

A new-model EU cybersecurity agency could help states defend their elections against "hybrid attacks", the Commission has said.

EU monitoring Cyprus passport sales

The European Commission has said it is in a "dialogue" with Cyprus amid concerns on loopholes in its passport sale scheme.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel wins fourth term, exit polls say
  2. EU to hail 'aspirations' of former Soviet states
  3. UK says credit downgrade was wrong
  4. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  5. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  6. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  7. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  8. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel