France's main religious leaders have sent a message of unity and solidarity after meeting with French President Francois Hollande a day after two extremists attacked a Catholic church and slit the throat of an elderly priest in front of other hostages.
Yet even as they spoke, more horrifying details of the church attack became known.
An 86-year-old woman, one of five held hostage on Tuesday at the Normandy church, said the attackers had handed her husband a mobile phone and demanded that he take photos or video of the priest after he was killed. Her husband was in turn slashed in four places by the attackers and is now hospitalised with serious injuries.
The attackers took hostages at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in France's northwest region of Normandy, during morning mass. After the priest was slain, both attackers, at least one of them a local man, were killed by police outside the church. The exact timeline of the attack is still unclear.
The elderly woman identified only as Jeanine told RMC radio that her husband, Guy, played dead to stay alive. Two nuns were held hostage along with the couple and the priest, while a third nun escaped and gave the alert.
France was still coming to grips with the Bastille Day attack in Nice that killed 84 people when the church was attacked. With the attack threat extremely high, France must also protect 56 remaining summer events, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve noted, adding that where "optimal" security cannot be assured, an event will be cancelled.
Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said 4,000 members of the military force called Sentinel will patrol Paris, while 6,000 will patrol in the provinces.
Hollande, meanwhile, presided over a defence council and cabinet meeting on Wednesday in Paris after speaking with Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish leaders.
As authorities looked for ways to prevent extremist attacks, gruesome details of the church attack trickled out.
The attackers killed the priest celebrating mass, Father Jacques Hamel, 85.
"He fell down looking upwards, toward us," said Jeanine, the ex-hostage, who said they forced her husband to then take pictures or video.
"The terrorists held me with a revolver at my neck," she said, adding it was not clear to her now whether the weapon was real or fake.
The Paris prosecutor, Francois Molins, said the two attackers had knives and fake explosives - one a phony suicide belt covered in tin foil. He identified one of the attackers as Adel Kermiche, a 19-year-old who grew up in the town and tried to travel to Syria twice last year using family members' identity documents.
He was detained outside France, sent home, handed preliminary terrorism charges and wore a tracking bracelet that was turned off four hours a day.
The identity of the second attacker has not been made public. Police combing the area after the attack detained a 16-year-old whom Molins said was the younger brother of a young man who travelled to the Syria-Iraq zone of the Islamic State group carrying the ID of Kermiche.