Following a hostage situation at a church in northern France, two armed men and one hostage have been killed. The slain hostage was Rev. Jacques Hamel, an elderly priest, and Le Figaro reports that the hostage takers ‘slit’ his throat while he was giving mass. The other hostages included two nuns and two worshippers. The French president, François Hollande, and the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, visited Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, where the attack happened. Speaking at the site, Hollande said the attack was a ‘cowardly assassination’ carried out by ‘by two terrorists in the name of Daesh’. It also appears that one of the attackers tried to get to Syria, but was deported back to France, where he served a year in prison. A source close to the investigation has told Le Figaro that one of the assailants was wearing an electronic tag.
This attack comes after a month of terror in both France and Germany. France is still reeling from the Bastille Day attack in Nice earlier this month which killed 84 people, and the country is still in a state of emergency. This latest attack brings the religious angle into sharp relief. Across France, synagogues and Jewish schools are already guarded around the clock by police. It remains to be seen whether demands for similar levels of protection for churches begin to be made.