French police kill man who set fire to Rouen synagogue

    WORLD  17 May 2024 - 18:47

    French police shot and killed a man armed with a knife and a metal bar who is suspected of having started a fire that charred and blackened the insides of a synagogue in the Normandy city of Rouen early Friday, an attack the interior minister said was “clearly” antisemitic and which infuriated Jewish leaders.

    Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the man was an Algerian national who wasn’t flagged as a suspected extremist, according to AP.

    The man had sought permission to stay in France for medical treatment and, after it was refused, had been placed on a police wanted list for possible return back to his country.

    Darmanin praised the 25-year-old police officer who shot and killed the suspect, saying he “was right” to open fire when the man rushed at him with a knife. The minister said the officer would be decorated for his “extremely courageous, extremely professional” behaviour. He described the suspected arson attack on the synagogue as “clearly an antisemitic act.”

    Firefighters were alerted early Friday morning to a blaze at the synagogue. Police officers who were sent to the scene discovered the man on the roof of the building, clutching the metal bar in one hand and the kitchen knife in the other, and smoke rising from the synagogue’s windows, Rouen prosecutor Frédéric Teillet said.

    He said the man hurled abuse and threw the metal bar at the police before jumping off the roof and then running at one of the officers with his knife raised.

    The officer fired five shots, hitting the man four times, fatally wounding him, the prosecutor said.

    Tensions and anger have grown in France over the Israel-Hamas war. Antisemitic acts have surged in the country, which has the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Western Europe.

    French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said this month that the sharp spike in antisemitic acts in France that followed the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel has continued into this year.

    Authorities registered 366 antisemitic acts in the first three months of 2024, a 300% increase over the same period last year, Attal said. More than 1,200 antisemitic acts were reported in the last three months of 2023 — which was three times more than in the whole of 2022, he said.

    “We are witnessing an explosion of hatred,” he said.

    Caliber.Az

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