The head of the European Commission on Tuesday (26 July) pledged “Europe’s solidarity and cooperation in the fight against barbarity”, in a letter to French President François Hollande after a church attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
Two armed men pledging allegiance to the Islamic State terrorist group (Daesh) attacked a church during a service on Tuesday, killing an elderly priest and taking four hostages.
Both attackers were shot dead by French police and one of the hostages is in a critical condition.
“More than ever, all over Europe, solidarity and cooperation will be essential in the fight against barbarity and to ensure that our shared values prevail,” Jean-Claude Juncker wrote.
“The European Commission is fully mobilised, along with other European institutions, to provide all the support it can to France in these painful moments,” he added.
“Daesh has declared war on us,” French President François Holland told reporters at the scene in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen. “We must fight this war by all means, while respecting the rule of law, what makes us a democracy.”
“In the face of this threat that has never been greater in France and Europe, the government is absolutely determined (to defeat) terrorism,” Hollande added.
“Targeting the deeper essence of our lives”
In a statement, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also expressed solidarity and offered her “condolences to the families of the victims, to France and the Catholic Church.”
“Targeting a man of faith, of any faith, is always a crime against our common humanity because it means targeting the deeper essence of our lives, believers and non-believers alike,” she said.
“The right answer is to keep living together, to stop the hatred,” Mogherini said.
“The terrible, daily news of attacks reinforce our common work against terrorism, within and beyond our borders,” she said. “It’s unity that will make us prevail.”
Hollande has cancelled a trip to Prague on Wednesday (27 July) to discuss European Union affairs.