Isis posts video 'showing two Normandy attackers pledging allegiance'

Father Jacques Hamel had his throat slit by two attackers who stormed a Normandy church during on Tuesday

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The Independent Online

Isis has released a video of the two French attackers who brutally murdered an elderly Catholic priest in Normandy allegedly pledging allegiance to the terror group.

Both men speak in Arabic and refer to Isis’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the film released by the group’s Amaq propaganda agency on Wednesday.  

One of the attackers holds a sign with the Isis flag printed on it.

The two men, calling themselves noms de guerre Abu Omar and Abu Jalil al-Hanfai, hold hands while sitting on the floor and swear "obedience" to Baghdadi.

Father Jacques Hamel, 86, who had served the local area for decades, had his throat slit after a pair of attackers stormed a Normandy church during a morning mass at around 10am local time on Tuesday, taking the priest, two nuns and several members of the congregation hostage.

A nun who was in the church – identified as Sister Danielle – said the priest was forced to the ground before his throat was slit.

One of the attackers has been identified as 19-year-old Adel Kermiche by French police who grew up locally and tried to travel to Syria twice last year using family members' identity documents.

Wearing a camo jacket and speaking in broken Arabic, Kermiche recites in the footage: "We pledge allegiance and obedience to Emir of the faithful Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in hardship and in ease."

The prosecutor's office said on Wednesday the second attacker has not been formally identified. However, police have detained a 16-year-old who is understood to be the younger brother of a man who traveled to the Syria and was carrying Kermiche's ID. He was still being questioned.

Isis issued a claim of responsibility for the attack minutes after the French President François Hollande said the militant group had declared war on his country and that the government would fight the group “with all means possible”.

It called the two attackers “soldiers of the Islamic State”, echoing statements on the recent attacks in Nice, Ansbach and Wurzburg.

The killing is the latest in a wave of attacks in Europe in recent weeks. There have been at least three Islamist terror incidents in Germany in the past week and the events in Nice on 14 July where a lorry driver ploughed a car into the Bastille Day crowd killing 84 people.

With the attack threat for France ranked extremely high, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said France is working to protect 56 remaining summer events and may consider cancelling some.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 4,000 members of the Sentinel military force will patrol Paris, while 6,000 will patrol in the provinces. They are being bolstered by tens of thousands of police and reservists.

Mr Hollande, presided over a defence council and Cabinet meeting in Paris on Wednesday after speaking with Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish leaders.

The leader of Paris' main mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, said France's Muslims must push for better training of Muslim clerics and urged that reforming French Muslim institutions be put on the agenda.

Pope Francis, visiting Krakow, Poland, said after the attacks: "It's war, we don't have to be afraid to say this."

Additional reporting by Associated Press