French police fatally shoot suspect attempting to set fire to synagogue

May 17 (UPI) -- French police early Friday fatally shot an armed suspect about to set fire to a synagogue in the city of Rouen, officials said.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the police action in a statement online.


"In Rouen, national police officers neutralized early this morning an armed individual clearly wanting to set fire to the city's synagogue," he said on X. "I congratulate them for their responsiveness and courage."

Mayor Nicola Mayer-Rossignol of the French city located about 84 miles north of Paris said no one was harmed aside from the suspect.

He said his thoughts were with the city's Jewish community.

"Through this attack and this attempted burning of the synagogue of @Rouen, it is not only the Israelite community that is affected," he added on X. "The entire town of @Rouen is bruised and is shocked."

Yonathan Arfi, president of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, said the act was meant to intimidate all Jews.

"Once again, there is an attempt to create a climate of terror for the Jews in our country," Arfi said. "Fighting anti-Semitism is defending the Republic."

Elie Korchia, president of the Central Consistory of France, praised police for their response to the incident.


"On this Shabbat eve, an armed individual who wanted to set fire to the consistorial synagogue of Rouen was neutralized by the police, who were nearby," he said on X. "Thank you to our law enforcement who avoided a new anti-semitic tragedy in our country."

The incident comes amid growing tensions in France over the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, resulting in an increase in anti-semitic incidents.

Earlier this week, vandals defaced Paris' Wall of the Righteous Holocaust Memorial with a series of red hand prints.

The monument is etched with the names of the more than 3,900 people who risked their lives to save Jews in France during the Second World War.

French President Emmanuel Macron decided the defacement as undermining "the memory as well as the victims of the Shoah."

According to the European Jewish Congress, there has been an increase in anti-semitism across Europe since the Israel-Hamas war exploded on Oct. 7.

In France, there was a 1,000% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2023 compared to a year earlier, it said.

"Since October 7, the number of antisemitic incidents across Europe has surged to levels unprecedented since WWII," it said in a statement following the early Friday attack.


"We cannot turn a blind eye to this rising wave of hatred."

This story is breaking. Return for updates.

Latest Headlines