Man shot dead after synagogue was set on fire

French police have killed a man after a synagogue was set on fire in the north-western city of Rouen.

The man was armed with a knife and a metallic tool and was shot after he threatened officers, the Rouen prosecutor said.

Rouen Mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol said the attack on the synagogue did not just affect the Jewish community, but the entire city was “battered and in shock”.

French reports say the suspect was Algerian and was appealing against an order to leave France.

Police were called at around 06:45 (04:45 GMT) after smoke was seen rising from the synagogue. The attacker climbed on a large waste bin and threw a petrol bomb through a small window, setting the synagogue alight.

Two police officers reached the scene fast, after the man was spotted on security cameras. The suspect was on the roof of the synagogue when they arrived, according to prosecutors. After threatening the pair he threw a chisel at them before jumping down to the ground, brandishing a 25cm (10in) knife.

“The officer opened fire five times, hitting the individual four times,” said Rouen public prosecutor Frédéric Teillet, explaining that he had seen the footage on the security cameras.

Firefighters at the scene eventually brought the fire under control inside the synagogue in the historic centre of the city. There appeared to be no victims other than the armed man, the mayor said.

Damage inside the synagogue has been described as significant. “I’m really upset, it’s catastrophic,” said Natacha Benhaïm, the head of Rouen’s Jewish community of some 150 families.

The walls and furniture had been left blackened by the fire, although “the Torah scrolls, the holy books, did not come to any harm”. (BBC)

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