France attack: Assailants who stormed Normandy church were 'soldiers', claims IS

France: The Islamic State group said on Tuesday that two assailants who stormed a church in France and killed an elderly priest were its "soldiers," an IS-linked news agency reported.

Police investigate the site of attack. AP

Police investigate the site of attack. AP

"The perpetrators of the Normandy church attack are soldiers of the Islamic State who carried out the attack in response to calls to target countries of the Crusader coalition," the Amaq news agency said, citing a "security source".

The claim came just hours after the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

The two assailants stormed the church during morning mass, taking the five people inside hostage and slitting the throat of its priest Jacques Hemel, who was in his eighties.

The attackers were killed by police after they emerged from the church when it was surrounded by France's anti-gang brigade, the BRI, which specialises in kidnappings.

Three of the hostages were freed unharmed but another has life-threatening injuries, an interior ministry spokesman said.

The horrific assault stunned a nation already shaken to its core after a massacre in the French Riviera city of Nice less than two weeks ago that was claimed by IS.

Updated Date: Jul 26, 2016 18:42 PM

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