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Elderly priest killed in French Church attack

14:45, Tuesday, 26 July, 2016
Elderly priest killed in French Church attack

Two men armed with knives have been shot dead after taking several people hostage in a church in northern France.

According to a Reuters police source, one of the hostages - a priest - was killed and had his throat slit.

A second hostage is reportedly fighting for their life.

Five people were being held by the knifemen in the church in the town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near the city of Rouen in Normandy, according to the news agency.

The assailants got in through the back door of the church and took the priest, two nuns and two parishioners hostage during morning mass.

French media reported shots being fired as police confirmed both captors were 'neutralised' as they emerged from the church.

Le Figaro is reporting several others have been injured during the attack.

It says one of the hostages managed to escape during the hours-long ordeal and raised the alarm.

Emergency services were quickly on the scene and negotiators summoned to the scene.

The French newspaper says the church targeted in Tuesday's attack was on the hit list, among other Catholic sites, of a 24-year-old Algerian student.

Sid Ahled Ghlam's plot failed and he was arrested after killing Aurelie Chatelain, a fitness coach.

TV footage of the scene showed one person being stretchered into an awaiting ambulance, surrounded by police cars and fire engines.

A police cordon has been set up to seal off the crime scene and several police officers - some in plain clothes - can be seen talking on mobile phones.

The identities of the attackers and their motive is unknown.

Anti-terror investigators has been appointed to take charge of the investigation.

French President Francois Hollande and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve are on their way to the scene.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls condemned what he described as 'a barbaric attack on a church'.

'The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded. We will stand together,' he wrote on Twitter.

A police spokesman at the scene said the attack has 'shocked the community'.

The attack comes almost two weeks after the Bastille Day massacre in Nice which left 84 people dead after Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhel drove a truck into a crowd celebrating the national holiday on 14 July.

France has been under a state of emergency since the terror attacks in Paris in November last year.

- See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2016/07/26/two-knifeman-take-hostages-in-french-church.html#sthash.k36ED8qC.dpuf

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