YET ANOTHER AWFUL ATTACK IN FRANCE: Attackers Storm French Church and Take Hostages, Killing a Priest.
The Paris prosecutor’s office, which handles counterterrorism investigations in France, announced that it was taking charge of the case, indicating that officials were treating it as a terrorist attack.
Officials announced that President François Hollande and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve would travel to the town where the church is located, St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen that has about 29,000 inhabitants, about 65 miles northwest of Paris.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls expressed horror at what he called “a barbaric attack on a church,” adding: “The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded. We will stand together.”
The Interior Ministry confirmed the death of one man and said that another person had been critically injured.
Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen, in a statement from Krakow, Poland, where he and other Roman Catholic leaders were gathered for the World Youth Day event, identified the victim as the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 86, the auxiliary priest at the church.
Reached on his cellphone, the parish priest, the Rev. Auguste Moanda-Phuati, 50, said that he was rushing back to the church from a vacation near Paris and that Father Hamel was assigned to celebrate Mass on Tuesday.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican, said that Pope Francis was horrified at the “barbaric killing” of a priest and issued “the most severe condemnation of all forms of hatred.”
The attack in France, and the ensuing police response, unfolded rapidly.
At 10:56 a.m., the National Police urged residents via Twitter to keep away from the scene and not enter the perimeter around the church. At 11:15 a.m., the police said that the crisis was over, with two hostage-takers “neutralized” by the police.
That last part is a relief.