Priest killed in hostage taking near Rouen
Two knifemen have been shot dead after taking hostages in a church in France, local media have reported.
A priest, two nuns and several worshippers were involved in the incident in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen, in Normandy.
According to unconfirmed reports, the hostage takers were shot dead by police.
The French Police Nationale gave no details about the situation but sent a Tweet urging media not to cross security tape at the scene or take pictures or video.
Local reports said that one of the hostages died during the incident.
The police operation was completed by 11am French time (10am UK time). Officers from the elite anti-terrorist Raid squad were called in to assist local police.
The area around the church remained cordoned off and the old town was out of bounds.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve was reported to be on his way to the scene.
President Francois Hollande was also said to be travelling to the scene.
Local reports quoted police sources as saying that “at least” one of the hostages had been killed.
The hostage-takers entered the church armed with knives shortly before 10am local time (9am UK time), said French media sources.
A number of shots were heard over a period of around 15 seconds as the incident came to an end.
Later reports suggested that the priest died from a slashed throat during the incident, while one of the members of the congregation was seriously injured.
Newspaper Le Figaro quoted police sources as saying that at least one of the two hostage-takers had a beard and was wearing a “chachia” skullcap of the kind worn by some Muslims.