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Video shows France church attackers pledging allegiance to Islamic State

Pledge of allegiance reportedly reveals two attackers vowing to support Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Two men forced their way into Eglise St-Etienne, 17th-century church in Normandy and slit throat of Father Jacques Hamel (AFP)

The Islamic State (IS) group released video footage on Wednesday that it says depicts two men who killed a priest in a French church pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The video, posted on the IS-affiliated news agency Amaq, shows two young men with an IS banner, as one of them recites in Arabic in a strong non-native accent a pledge of allegiance to the group's head.

Mass was ending on Tuesday morning at Eglise St-Etienne, a 17th-century church in Normandy, when the two men forced their way in and slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel, 86, after pushing him to his knees in front of his congregation.

One of the two men has since been identified by French police as Adel Kermiche, 19. He had twice tried to reach Syria to join IS.

The two men are filmed both speaking in Arabic and referring to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. One holds what appears to be a piece of paper on which the IS flag is printed.

The killing came 12 days after the lorry attack in Nice in which 84 people died and 300 were injured. The two men had held several worshippers and nuns hostage during the attack, until a police unit arrived at the scene and shot the attackers as they emerged from the church.

The brutality of the attack in the Rouen, in northern France, has left Europe stunned and fearful as it came in the wake of a series of assaults in France and Germany by attackers who said they were acting in the name of IS.

The group quickly claimed responsibility for the church killings, saying two of its "soldiers" had attacked the church "in response to the call to target Crusader coalition states". By targeting a priest as he celebrated Mass, many fear the group is attempting to foment a religious war between Muslims and Christians.

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