Europe

France church attack: Two arrested over priest's killing

  • 31 July 2016
  • From the section Europe
Nun shakes hands with a Muslim in Sainte-Therese church during a mass in tribute to priest Jacques Hamel on July 30, 2016 in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray Image copyright AFP
Image caption Muslims attended Catholic Mass across France on Sunday in an act of solidarity

Two men have been placed under formal investigation over the murder of a priest in a Normandy church, including a cousin of one of the killers.

Farid K, 30, a cousin of attacker Abdel Malik Petitjean, was arrested on suspicion of "terrorist association".

The other man, Jean-Philippe Steven J, 20, was put under formal investigation for allegedly attempting to travel to Syria in June with Petitjean.

Petitjean and accomplice Adel Kermiche, both 19, were shot dead by police.

They had interrupted a church service in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, last Tuesday, taken hostages and slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel, 86.

What we know about church attack

Tributes to Fr Jacques Hamel

Profile: Abdel Malik Petitjean

Kermiche 'was brainwashed'

The Paris prosecutor's office said both men arrested on Sunday were being held in custody.

The development came as Muslims across France attended Catholic Mass in a gesture of solidarity after the murder.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Abdel Malik Petitjean, pictured on his driver's licence, was on a watch list

France's Muslim council, the CFCM, urged Muslims to show "solidarity and compassion" over the killing.

Petitjean had been on a watch list as a potential security threat since June after trying to enter Syria from Turkey.

Adel Kermiche was also known to the security services.

So-called Islamic State (IS) released a video of what it said were the two men pledging allegiance to the group.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Father Jacques Hamel was a well-known figure in St-Etienne-du-Rouvray

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