Hollande Call for Unity, Warns of Long War as Priest Killed

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  • Assailant was under police supervision, had tried for Syria
  • Second attacker still hasn’t been identified, prosecutor says

President Francois Hollande called for France to unite in the face of terrorism and warned them that they are in for a long fight after the nation suffered another assault by an Islamic extremist.

“Our unity is our force. French men and women, let us join forces. This is how we will win the war against hatred and fanaticism. I can assure you this: we will win this war,” Hollande said late Tuesday. “This war will be long. Our democracy is the target, it will be our shield.”

French police killed two attackers who seized hostages and murdered a priest by slitting his throat during a siege at a church in Normandy in the latest attack claimed by Islamic State amid a wave of terror attacks across Europe. 

France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor said that the one assailant has been identified as 19 year-old Adel Kermiche, who was under close police surveillance after having attempted to get to Syria last year. Kermiche had a strict curfew and an electronic tag. The second attacker has yet to be identified, the prosecutor said.

Security services have been on alert in France after a 31-year-old Tunisian with French residency drove a rented 19-ton refrigerator truck through crowds on Nice’s seafront promenade earlier this month, killing 84 people. Germany has also boosted safeguards at airports, train stations and other public places after three deadly attacks carried out by refugees. Hollande said the terrorist threat has never been higher in France and across Europe.

Speaking after the president, Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged people to be vigilant while out in public spaces.

Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency said two “soldiers of the Islamic State” carried out the attack on the Normandy church. The attackers responded to calls to target “countries belonging to the crusader coalition,” according to the claim shared by U.S.-based SITE Intel Group, which monitors jihadist social media.