Second attacker in French hostage killing identified

Second attacker named as Abdel-Malik Petit Jean (19), who was born in Vosges, France

Abdel Malik Petitjean (19), one the two men who stormed into a church in the northern French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass and cut the throat of a 86-year-old priest at the altar. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Abdel Malik Petitjean (19), one the two men who stormed into a church in the northern French town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass and cut the throat of a 86-year-old priest at the altar. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

 

French officials have identified the second man involved in the murder of a priest in a Normandy church.

The French prosecutors’ office said DNA tests show he was Abdel-Malik Nabil Petit Jean, a 19-year-old born in the eastern Vosges region of France.

He and Adel Kermiche, also 19-years-old, entered the church during Tuesday’s morning mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, outside Rouen, and slashed the throat of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel.

The pair also seriously injured an 86-year-old parishioner and took hostages including three nuns, who were used as “human shields” as police tried to end an hour-long siege by entering the church.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killing, describing the two knifemen as its “soldiers”. The pair were later shot dead by police.

Kermiche was wearing an electronic surveillance tag at the time of the attack, having been released from prison where he was being held after twice attempting to travel to Syria.

Anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins said Kermiche’s tag was deactivated for a few hours every morning, and the attack took place while it was not operating.

PA