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Catholic Priest Killed In Rouen, France
A Catholic priest has been killed in an attack by two armed men at his parish near Rouen in northern France.
The French Interior ministry said the armed men entered the church in during Mass, taking the priest and four other people hostage.
Police later arrived at the scene and engaged the attackers in a gun duel, killing both of them.
The area has been cordoned off and police have told people to stay away.
Pierre-Henri Brandet, spokesman for the Interior ministry, said one of the hostages was critically wounded and Police were now searching the church for explosives.
The minister said the motive of the attackers was not immediately clear, but the investigation into the incident would be led by anti-terrorism prosecutors.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has described the attack as “barbaric”.
“The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded. We will stand together,” he wrote on Twitter.
President Francois Hollande and Interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, are on their way to the arear where the attack took place to be briefed by police.
The Vatican also condemned the attack saying “We are particularly shocked because this horrible violence took place in a church, in which God’s love is announced.”
Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, who released a statement on behalf of Pope Francis, said that the Pontiff was feeling “the pain and horror of this absurd violence” and “condemned in the most radical way any form of hate”.
A woman who works at a local beauty parlour, Eulalie Garcia, said she had known the 92-year-old priest since her childhood.
“My family has lived here for 35 years and we have always known him. He was someone who was treasured by the community. He was very discreet and didn’t like to draw attention to himself,” she said.
There was no immediate word on the identity of the hostage-takers, but France has been on high alert since the Bastille Day attack in Nice earlier this month, when a man ploughed a lorry into celebrating crowds, killing more than 80 people.