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Police shoot dead armed attacker who started fire in Rouen synagogue

Police have shot dead an armed attacker who was trying to set fire to a synagogue in the northern French city of Rouen, according to authorities.

A male suspect entered the building early Friday morning and threw what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail, the local mayor said.

The man climbed on top of a trash bin and got to the second floor of the synagogue, then threw the projectile into the building causing a fire, Rouen mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol told journalists at the scene.

“He was [quickly] brought down by security forces before trying to wrestle with them. He then tried to assault security forces with a knife, a long knife,” the mayor said, adding it was then when security forces opened fired and killed the suspect.

No one was hurt during the attempted attack, according to Mayer-Rossignol. Police arrived very quickly, partially because they saw the suspect on security cameras, he said.

The local prosecutor’s office has launched two inquiries, one into the arson and the other into the police firing of arms, Mayer-Rossignol said.

“We all have this worry inside of us, but when it actually happens, it is still shocking,” he added.

France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted his support for the police who intervened.

“Early this morning, police officers in Rouen killed an armed individual clearly intent on setting fire to the city’s synagogue. I congratulate them on their responsiveness and courage,” Darmanin said.

Rouen authorities had increased police presence at the city’s synagogue following the October 7 attacks in Israel.

Security measures have ramped up at Jewish institutions across France in response to tensions around the ongoing Israel-Gaza war. Darmanin last month announced additional security at synagogues and Jewish schools.

“As Passover approaches and given the current international situation, I have told local officials to significantly step up security at places visited by our Jewish compatriots, especially with regards to synagogues and Jewish schools,” the minister wrote on X.

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