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France church attack: Here’s what we know about Normandy church attackers

Click to play video: 'Police in France continue to investigate incident at Normandy church that left priest dead' Police in France continue to investigate incident at Normandy church that left priest dead
WATCH ABOVE: Two attackers killed a priest with a knife and seriously wounded another hostage in a church in northern France on Tuesday before being shot dead by French police – Jul 26, 2016

Two extremists are dead after they took hostages inside a church in Normandy, France during morning mass Tuesday, slaying a priest by slitting his throat and injuring at least one other worshipper.

One of the attackers has been identified as Adel Kermiche, a local youth whose parents flagged his radical behaviour to authorities.

The so-called Islamic State group (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement saying two of its “soldiers” had “executed the operation in response to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

The Associated Press reported a local Muslim leader said one of the attackers was on police radar and had travelled to Turkey.

“The person who committed this odious act is known and he has been followed by the police for at least 1 1/2 years. He went to Turkey and security services were alerted after this,” Mohammed Karabila, head of the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith for Haute-Normandie told The Associated Press.

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The bell tower of the church is seen after a hostage-taking in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in Normandy, France on July 26, 2016. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Karabila apparently refused to divulge the man’s name and had no information on the second attacker.

Friends and family confirmed Kermiche’s identity to the Associated Press. Friend Jonathan Sacarabany told AP Kermiche grew up in a housing project in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. He has a sister who is a doctor, a brother, and their mother is a professor.

The family alerted authorities to his radicalism to try to stop him from going to Syria, Sacarabany said.

Kermiche was arrested trying to go to Syria and was put under judicial supervision upon his return, with an electronic bracelet that was deactivated for five hours a day allowing him to leave home without surveillance, according to a police official with knowledge of the investigation.

Kamiche was required to check in with police once a day, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to divulge details.

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WATCH: French police arrest suspect connected to Normandy church attack

Click to play video: 'French police arrest suspect connected to Normandy church attack' French police arrest suspect connected to Normandy church attack
French police arrest suspect connected to Normandy church attack – Jul 26, 2016

Citing investigation sources, French media had reported that one of the attackers attempted to travel to Syria in 2015 and was detained and eventually jailed for a year. According to I-Tele, the suspected attacker was released from prison earlier this year, was ordered to wear an electronic GPS tracker, and forced to live with his parents Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray.

Earlier, French President Francois Hollande travelled to Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and said the attackers had pledged allegiance to ISIS in what he called a “vile terrorist attack.”

“We must lead this war with all our means,” Hollande said.

The slain priest was identified by the Archbishop of Rouen, a city near the site of the attack, as 86-year-old Father Jacques Hamel.

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France is on high alert and under a state of emergency after an attack in the southern city of Nice on Bastille Day – July 14 – that killed 84 people that was claimed by the Islamic State group, as well as a series of attacks last year that killed 147 others around Paris.

with files from The Associated Press

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