A priest has been killed in an attack by two armed men on his church in a suburb of Rouen in northern France.
The attackers entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during Mass, taking the priest, Fr. Jacques Hamel, 84, and four other people hostage.
Police later surrounded the church and French TV said shots were fired. Both hostage-takers are now dead.
The Amaq news agency, linked to so-called Islamic State, said “two IS soldiers” had carried out the attack.
President Francois Hollande said the men had claimed to be from IS.
Speaking in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, he said the attackers had committed a “cowardly assassination” and France would fight IS “by all means”.
Pope Francis decried the “pain and horror of this absurd violence”.
French interior ministry spokesman, Pierre-Henri Brandet, said one of the hostages had been critically wounded.
He said the hostage-takers had been “neutralised” after coming out of the church. French prosecutors say one person has since been detained over the attack.
Police sources said it appeared the attackers had slit the priest’s throat with a knife.
The area was cordoned off while the church was searched for explosives, and police told people to stay away.
Mr. Brandet said the investigation into the incident would be led by anti-terrorism prosecutors.
One of the men was known to the French intelligence services, French TV channel M6 has reported.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has expressed his horror at the “barbaric attack”.
“The whole of France and all Catholics are wounded. We will stand together,” he wrote on Twitter. -BBC