PARIS: French religious leaders on Wednesday called for authorities to boost security at places of worship after extremists killed a priest in a Normandy church.

“We deeply desire that our places of worship are the subject of greater (security) focus, a sustained focus,” said French Muslim leader Dalil Boubakeur, after meeting with President Francois Hollande.

Hollande gathered with the leaders of the country’s main religions a day after two attackers stormed a church in the northern town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during morning mass, slitting the throat of an 86-year-old priest.

Boubakeur, speaking in the name of French Muslims, voiced his “deep grief” at the attack which he descrbed as a “blasphemous sacrilege which goes against all the teachings of our religion.”

The attack, claimed by IS militants, comes less than two weeks after Tunisian Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel ploughed a truck into a crowd in the Riviera city of Nice, killing 84 people and injuring over 300.

The third major strike on France in 18 months prompted a bitter political spat over alleged security failings.