ROUEN - Hundreds of mourners crammed into Rouen Cathedral in northern France on Tuesday for the funeral of the elderly Roman Catholic priest knifed to death at a church altar by two Islamist militants.
Father Jacques Hamel was leading morning mass in the nearby industrial town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray last Tuesday when the attackers stormed in, forced the 85-year-old to his knees and slit his throat while chanting in Arabic.
The attack was the first on a church in western Europe and came just 12 days after a Tunisian who had pledged allegiance to Islamic State drove his truck through a crowd of Bastille Day revelers in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people.
Islamist militants have killed more than 200 people in France since January 2015. Facing strong criticism over its security record from right-wing opponents, the Socialist government has warned of a long war against militant Islam at home and abroad in countries like Iraq, Syria and Libya.