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Catholic priest in France murdered by suspected cathedral arsonist

Firefighters work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France, on July 18, 2020 (Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP)
Firefighters work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France, on July 18, 2020 (Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP)

PARIS — A Rwandan refugee suspected of causing a major fire that ravaged the cathedral in the French city of Nantes last year murdered a Catholic priest in western France today, the interior minister and a source close to the investigation say.

“All my support for the Catholics of our country after the dramatic murder of a priest in the Vendee region,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin writes on Twitter, saying he was heading to the scene.

A source close to the investigation, who asks not to be named, says a man had earlier gone to police in the town of Mortagne-sur-Sevre and declared he had killed a priest. The man was already under judicial control over the fire at Nantes cathedral in July 2020, the source adds.

The source adds that the priest, aged 60, had been welcoming the man into his church for several months.

The man, named as Emmanuel A. has confessed to being behind the fire at the Gothic Nantes cathedral that horrified France on July 18, 2020.

He had initially been placed under arrest before being freed under judicial control.

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