France's anti-terrorist prosecution unit said on Tuesday it had taken over the investigation into an attack at a church in Normandy, northern France, after police said a priest had been killed by two hostage takers who were later shot dead.

The two hostage takers, whose identity and motives were still unknown, were killed in a police operation that ended the assault, a spokesman for the interior ministry said.

Another of the five hostages was seriously wounded, the spokesman said.