Police and rescue workers stand at the scene after two assailants had taken five people hostage in the church at Saint-Etienne- du -Rouvray near Rouen in Normandy, France, July 26, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Bonet

The Islamic State group has claimed an attack on a church in the Normandy region of northern France. The group, also known as ISIS, said that its “soldiers” carried out the attack that killed a priest.

Two men armed with knives took several hostage at the church Tuesday morning, and the assailants were later killed by French police.

Pierre-Henry Brandet, a spokesman for the French interior ministry, said that a second hostage was in critical condition. The five hostages included the priest, two nuns and two worshippers. French media reported that one of the hostages, who managed to escape, had raised the alarm.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on his Twitter account that the attack in Saint-Étienne- du-Rouvray, near Rouen, was a blow to all Catholics and the whole of France. France's Interior Ministry said, in a statement, that the Paris anti-terror prosecutor has taken over the investigations.

The attack has also been condemned by the Vatican, which called it a “barbaric killing” made worse by being carried out in a sacred place.