Ji­hadists at­tack church, slit priest’s throat

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A FRENCH ji­hadist who was un­der house ar­rest on ter­ror charges took part in a church at­tack in which a priest was killed, fur­ther in­flam­ing ten­sions over se­cu­rity fail­ures in the vi­o­lence-weary na­tion.

Adel Ker­miche, 19, was one of two at­tack­ers who stormed a Catholic church in Saint-Eti­enne-duRou­vray dur­ing morn­ing mass on July 26, slit­ting the throat of an 86-year-old priest, Jac­ques Hamel, and leav­ing a wor­ship­per with se­ri­ous in­juries, said Paris pros­e­cu­tor Fran­cois Molins.

The at­tack, claimed by the Is­lamic State group, comes with France still in mourn­ing less than two weeks after Tu­nisian Mo­hamed La­houaiej Bouh­lel ploughed a lorry into a crowd in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 peo­ple.

The car­nage, the third ma­jor strike on France in 18 months, prompted a bit­ter po­lit­i­cal spat over al­leged se­cu­rity fail­ings and rev­e­la­tions over the church at­tack were likely to raise fur­ther questions.

Mr Molins said Mr Ker­miche first came to the at­ten­tion of anti-ter­ror of­fi­cials when a mem­ber of his fam­ily alerted them he was miss­ing in March 2015. He was ar­rested by Ger­man of­fi­cials and found to be us­ing his brother’s iden­tity in a bid to reach Syria.

He was charged and re­leased un­der ju­di­cial su­per­vi­sion, but in May fled to Tur­key where he was again ar­rested and re­turned to France where he was held in cus­tody un­til March 2016.

Mr Ker­miche was re­leased and fit­ted with an elec­tronic bracelet which al­lowed him to leave his house on week­days be­tween 8am and 12:30pm, said Mr Molins.

It was dur­ing this time that he and an­other at­tacker en­tered the cen­turies-old stone Saint-Eti­enne church, tak­ing hostage Mr Hamel, three nuns and two wor­ship­pers.

One of the nuns man­aged to es­cape and call po­lice, who, upon ar­rival, tried to ne­go­ti­ate with the hostage-tak­ers.

The nun, Sis­ter Danielle, told lo­cal ra­dio RMC that Mr Hamel was wear­ing his white vest­ments and was at the foot of the al­tar when “they forced him to get on his knees and not move”.

“He tried to strug­gle, he tried,” she said, adding the men were speak­ing Ara­bic. –

Photo: AFP

Peo­ple light can­dles in front of the city hall of Saint-Eti­enne du Rou­vray on June 26 in trib­ute to a priest killed in the city’s church.

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