Update 3 | Daesh claims responsibility for hostage situation in France

BREAKING • Two armed men who took hostages at a church near Rouen in northern France are now dead, police sources have said • Le Figaro reports men slashed priest's throat

The church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in France where the hostages were taken.
The church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in France where the hostages were taken.

Daesh has claimed responsibility for the church attack near Rouen in northern France, where two hostage-takers held between four and six people at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

The terrorist organisation released a statement in their official news agency, Amaq, saying "the two soldiers have led the operation in response to the call to target countries in the cross-coalition."

The attack lasted for 40 minutes and ended after police shot down the two hostage-takers as they emerged from the church's courtyard.

The police from the research and intervention brigade were informed of the situation by a nun who had managed to escape at the beginning of the attack.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the two men entered the church during mass, which was being celebrated by a priest and followed by four worshipers, including two sisters.

The hostage-takers were in possession of weapons, which France 24 claims to be knives.

France 3 television said a number of shots had been heard.

According to two police sources, the men killed the priest by slashing his throat, and three church-goers were injured - one of which grievously in an attempt to slash his throat.

The anti-terrorist section of the Paris public prosecutor's department launched an investigation, entrusting it to the Anti-Terrorism Sub-Directorate (SDAT) and the Directorate General of Internal Security (RPS).

According to early investigations, one of the attackers was on file with the French intelligence as "S", Le Figaro reports citing sources. But, the French newspaper said, this must be supported by the formal identification of the two attackers.

He tried to rally Syria in 2015 and was on his return, indicted for criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise and remanded in custody before being released in electronic bracelet.

The formal identification of the two men continued in early afternoon.

The General Vicar of Rouen, Maheut Philippe, went on site, in the absence of the archbishop of Rouen, Bishop Dominique Lebrun, who is currently at World Youth Day (WYD) in Krakow, Poland. President Francois Hollande and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve are also on their way.

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