Norwich voices support following terror attack in French twin city of Rouen

Police officers close off a road during a hostage situation in Normandy, France. Picture: BFM via AP

Police officers close off a road during a hostage situation in Normandy, France. Picture: BFM via AP

People in Norwich have expressed their unity with the twin city of Rouen after a priest was killed in a terrorist attack by Islamic State.

The attack happened in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen, where two attackers took five people hostage during morning mass before murdering 84-year-old Fr Jacques Hamel.

French police later surrounded the church and shot both hostage takers dead.

Norwich and Rouen have been twinned since 1959 and Alan Waters, leader of Norwich City Council, said they were shocked to hear of the attack.

“We are shocked and saddened to hear of the incident that has taken place in Rouen,” he said. “We have close links with Rouen as one of our twinned cities, and our thoughts are with all those affected, whether directly or indirectly.”

The Very Rev Jane Hedges, Dean of Norwich, said that they will be remembering the priest and his community and the people of France in their prayers at the Cathedral.

Three of the hostages were freed unharmed, but one remains in a critical condition in hospital. One attacker is reported to have been known to French police, and had tried to enter Syria last year.

Kelvin Goodrum, from Norwich, was visiting famous landmarks in Rouen city centre yesterday and said it was business and usual following the attack.

“We could sense virtually no change of mood,” he said. “People seemed to be going about their business and we saw virtually no police presence or heard more than the occasional siren.”

France is on high alert after an attack in Nice on Bastille Day - July 14 - that killed 84 people and a string of deadly attacks last year claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 147 others.

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