Attackers Kill Catholic Priest, Take Hostages During Mass at French Church

Two attackers are dead after killing a Catholic priest during morning Mass in France on Tuesday, July 26, police confirm to the Associated Press.

French Church Attack
French police officers and fire engines arrive at the scene of a hostage-taking at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in northern France, on July 26, 2016. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

The incident took place near the Normandy city of Rouen. Per the AP, the assailants rushed a church and slit the throat of the 84-year-old priest, Father Jacques Hamel. They took other hostages, including a nun, before being killed by authorities. One other person was reportedly wounded.

France Church Attack
This photo, taken on July 26, 2016, shows a rear view of the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, blocked by police following an attack by two knife-wielding men. MATTHIEU ALEXANDRE/AFP/Getty Images

"The investigations are ongoing. There are still unknowns," Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said in a statement, via the AP. "There are dogs, explosive detectors and bomb-disposal services, and as long as there are still unknowns, the judicial police cannot get inside the site. It's a dramatic situation."

The identities of the perpetrators have yet to be released. According to Reuters, the attackers were Islamic State soldiers. Terrorism investigators are currently at the scene.

French President Francois Hollande (center) flanked by Hubert Wulfranc, mayor of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (left) and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (right), speaks to the press as he leaves the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray's city hall following a hostage-taking at a town church July 26, 2016, which resulted in the death of a priest. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

"[ISIS] has declared war on us," French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday. "We must fight this war by all means, while respecting the rule of law — what makes us a democracy." According to the AP, one attacker was followed by police for more than a year.

France has been on high alert since the attack in Nice earlier this month. On July 15, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, 31, killed more than 80 people and wounded more than 200 others when he plowed over them with a truck as they celebrated Bastille Day in the streets.

Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Church
A French police officer stands guard by Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray's city hall following a hostage-taking at a church. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

President Barack Obama released a statement following the tragedy. "We have offered any assistance that they may need to investigate this attack and bring those responsible to justice," he wrote at the time. "We stand in solidarity and partnership with France, our oldest ally, as they respond to and recover from this attack."

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