Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

An armed man believed to have set fire to a synagogue in northwestern France was shot and killed by police on Friday.

Officers in Rouen responded to an alert early Friday morning stating that smoke was rising from a synagogue in the city, according to The Associated Press. When they arrived at the building, they came in contact with an unidentified man who was armed with a knife and a metal bar.

The national police information service said the man, who was allegedly leaving the synagogue, lunged toward the officers with his weapons. He was then shot and killed by one of the officers.

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A man armed with a knife and a metal bar was shot and killed by police in northwestern France on Friday after he lunged at them while leaving a synagogue in Rouen that authorities believe he set fire to. (LOU BENOIST/AFP via Getty Images)

Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol told local reporters the man climbed up the synagogue and threw “a sort of Molotov cocktail” into its main praying room, which started a fire and caused “significant damage.” Nobody was hurt during the incident.

“When the Jewish community is attacked, it’s an attack on the national community, an attack on France, an attack on all French citizens,” he said, adding that “it’s a fright for the whole nation.”

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Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin thanked officers for their response to the act and for taking out the threat.

“In Rouen, national police officers neutralized early this morning an armed individual clearly wanting to set fire to the city’s synagogue. I congratulate them for their reactivity and their courage,” he wrote on X.

The man is believed to have thrown a “sort of Molotov cocktail” into the synagogue’s main praying room, according to the city’s mayor. (LOU BENOIST/AFP via Getty Images)

Prosecutors in Rouen are investigating the circumstances surrounding the fire at the synagogue and the man killed by police, according to The AP.

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France, which has the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in western Europe, has seen an increase in antisemitic acts and anti-Israel protests following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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