Second French Church Attacker Was Known to Police: Source

A white rose is attached to a post in front of the church a day after a hostage-taking in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in Normandy, France, where French priest, Father Jacques Hamel, was killed with a knife and another hostage seriously wounded. The second teenager involved in the attack was a 19-year-old who was known to security services as a potential Islamist militant. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

By Chine Labbé and Michel Rose

PARIS/SAINT-ETIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France, July 28 – The second teenager involved in the killing of a priest in a church in France this week was a 19-year-old who was known to security services as a potential Islamist militant, police and judicial sources said on Thursday.

The man also appears to be a suspect police were looking for days ahead of the attack on a tipoff that the person was planning an attack, French media said.

Police have identified the man as Abdel-Malik Nabil Petitjean from a town in eastern France on the border with Germany, a judicial source told Reuters.

Security services had on June 29 opened a special file on Petitjean for becoming radicalized, a police source said separately. The government has said there are about 10,500 people with so-called ‘S files’ related to potential jihadi activities in France.

Petitjean and an already identified accomplice, Adel Kermiche, took hostages at a church in Normandy on Tuesday before slitting the threat of an elderly priest at the altar.

Kermiche, also 19, was not only known to security services, he wore an electronic bracelet and was awaiting trial for alleged membership of a terrorist organisation having been released on bail.

France’s intelligence services had received a tipoff from a foreign intelligence agency that an attack was being planned and subsequently sent out a photo to various security forces, a source close to the investigation said.

Police had no name, only a photograph, that appears to be of Petitjean, RTL radio said.

Islamic State’s news agency posted a video on Wednesday of two men it said were the church attackers pledging allegiance to the group’s leader.

Petitjean’s mother Yamina told BFM TV that her son had never spoken about Islamic State.

Three people close to Petitjean have been detained in police custody, a judicial source said. A 16-year-old, being held since Tuesday in connection with the attack, is still in custody.

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