Europe

France church attack: Killers 'pledged allegiance to IS' in video

A police officer stands guard during a mass in tribute to priest Jacques Hamel who was killed by two attackers at the Saint Etienne church, in the Cathedral Notre Dame in Rouen, Normandy, France, Wednesday, July 27, 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption The attackers in Normandy killed 86-year-old priest Jacques Hamel after storming in during morning Mass

The so-called Islamic State (IS) has released a video it says shows two men who murdered a priest in France, pledging allegiance to the group.

The two men are filmed speaking in Arabic and referring to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. One holds a piece of paper on which the IS flag is printed.

Fr Jacques Hamel, 86, had his throat cut in the attack on Tuesday at a church in a Normandy suburb.

Both attackers were shot dead by police after taking hostages.

The video was posted by Amaq news agency, the media arm of IS, which has posted the group's videos and statements in the past.

It has not been verified by French police.

Reports on Tuesday said the men had filmed the attack, but it is not clear where the video posted by Amaq was recorded.


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One of the two attackers has already been named by police as Adel Kermiche, 19, who had twice tried to reach Syria to join IS.

French investigators believe they are close to identifying the second attacker, according to French media reports.

Officers are said to have found an ID card at the home of Kermiche belonging to an individual named as Abdelmalik P, from Aix-les-Bains in eastern France.

It is not known whether this is the second attacker, whose face was badly disfigured by the police shooting.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Father Jacques Hamel was killed in his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen

France's Le Monde newspaper also reports that French security officials received a tip-off on Friday from an unnamed foreign intelligence partner that an individual was planning an attack in the coming days.

The newspaper says a photograph of the individual was provided but no identity, and French police were hunting for the man in the run up to the attack.

It may be that the so far unidentified man is the dead second attacker, the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says.


French press snubs killer's images

Image copyright AFP

A number of media outlets in France have announced that they will no longer publish images of people responsible for terror attacks.

In an editorial, Le Monde said it was doing so "to avoid giving posthumous credit" to those responsible, while adding that the intention of killing Father Hamel was to provoke "the blind vengeance that would place the entire country under the empire of hatred".

The move was repeated by the broadcasters BFMTV, France 24 and RFI.

A statement by the joint editorial team of France 24 and RFI said that they were "conscious of the echo that is being offered by our antennae... to terrorist movements who claim a state that does not exist".

The Catholic daily La Croix, which said it was following suit, said in its editorial on Wednesday that "responding to hatred with hatred would mean that evil has triumphed". The newspaper would now give only the first name of attackers, it said.

The Europe 1 radio station announced it would not name perpetrators of terror attacks.


The killing in Normandy came 12 days after the truck attack in Nice in which 84 people died. The Nice killer also pledged allegiance to IS.

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Media captionFrench President Francois Hollande attended the memorial mass in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Earlier on Wednesday, French religious leaders called for more security at places of worship across the country.

Representatives of Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist faiths spoke after meeting President Francois Hollande.

Mr Hollande also attended a mass for Fr Hamel in Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral.

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Media captionA nun who was in the church has described the horror of the attack

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