ST.-Ã‰TIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France ”” Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Ã‰glise St.-Ã‰tienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many regular parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.
Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.
The brutality in St.-Ã‰tienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. President FranÃ§ois Hollande raced to the town and blamed the Islamic State for the attack; soon after, the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”
It was the fourth attack linked to the Islamic State in Western Europe in less than two weeks