French police shoot dead suspect who planned to burn down synagogue in Rouen

ROUVEN, France (AP) — French police shot dead a man armed with a knife and metal rod suspected of setting fire to a synagogue in the Normandy city of Rouen early Friday, the latest apparent act of violence in the storm. Anti-Semitism Rocks France Amid Israel-Hamas War

The fire department was notified early Friday morning about the fire at the synagogue. Deployed police officers found the man on the roof of the building, holding a metal bar in one hand and a kitchen knife in the other, smoke billowing from the windows of the synagogue, Rouen prosecutor Frédéric Deillet told a brief news conference.

He said the man was abusive and threw a metal bar at police before jumping from the roof and then running at one of the officers who raised his knife.

The officer fired five times, hitting the man four times, fatally wounding him, the prosecutor said. He said authorities were trying to verify the man’s identity. The lawyer did not take any questions.

Interior Minister Gerald Dorman posted on his social media site X that the man “wanted to set fire to the town’s synagogue”.

He congratulated the officers “for their responsiveness and their courage”.

Tensions and anger are rising in France Israel-Hamas war. Antisemitic acts have risen In the country with the largest Jewish and Muslim population in Western Europe.

Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol said the man is believed to have climbed into a rubbish container and thrown “a kind of Molotov cocktail” into the synagogue, setting it on fire and causing “significant damage”.

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“When the Jewish community is attacked, it is an attack on the national community, an attack on France, an attack on all French citizens,” he said.

“It is a fear for the entire nation,” he added.

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal said a sharp increase in anti-Semitic activity in France following the October 7 attack on Israel continued this year.

Atal said authorities recorded 366 antisemitic acts in the first three months of 2024, a 300% increase over the same period last year. More than 1,200 antisemitic acts were reported in the last three months of 2023 – three times more than in 2022, he said.

“We see an explosion of hate,” he said.

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Leicester reported from Paris.

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