French Investigators Identify Second Church Attacker from DNA

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – French investigators have formally identified the second terrorist who attacked a church and killed a priest, a young man who was known to authorities after having tried to travel to Syria, a source in the prosecutor's office said Thursday.

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They named him as Abdel Malik Petitjean, 19, who was killed by police in the attack along with Adel Kermiche, also 19, who had been awaiting trial on terror charges and had been fitted with an electronic tag despite calls from the prosecutor for him not to be released.

The two men stormed into a church in the northern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass Tuesday and slit the 86-year-old priest's throat at the altar before being gunned down by police.

Another man was left seriously injured in a hostage drama, while three nuns and a worshiper escaped unharmed.

The two extremists pledged allegiance to Daesh (ISIL).

The prosecution source said Petitjean had no prior convictions and police did not have his fingerprints or DNA on file, which had slowed the identification of his body.

But he was on police files since June 29 for having tried to enter Syria from Turkey, the source said.

DNA samples from his mother enabled investigators to identify him.

The church attack was the third in two weeks in France and Germany in which extremists have pledged allegiance to Daesh, increasing jitters in Europe over young, often unstable men being lured by terrorist propaganda and calls to carry out attacks in their home countries.

Daesh also claimed that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who killed 84 people when he ploughed a truck into a crowd in the French city of nice on July 14, was one of their "soldiers", however no direct link has been found.

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