An Algerian national killed by a police officer in Rouen after an attempted fire at the synagogue

PARIS (Reuters) – An armed Algerian national, targeted in France by a border deportation order (OQTF), was shot dead on Friday morning by a police officer in Rouen (Seine-Maritime), “probably after setting a fire” in the city’s synagogue, the Interior Minister said.

Gérald Darmanin, who visited the site, denounced “an anti-Semitic act which attacks a place sacred to the Republic”.

The man, killed by four bullets by a 25-year-old deputy police officer whom he had threatened with a kitchen knife, was “particularly dangerous, particularly violent”, the minister told journalists.

The identity of the attacker, an illegal foreigner on whom only a transport card for the Rouen network had been found, was established by investigators.

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“This person, in his administrative life, is a citizen who is not French, he is of Algerian origin,” said Gérald Darmanin.

Neither on an “S” file, nor known to the French intelligence services, in 2022 he submitted an application for a sick foreign residence permit to the Seine-Maritime prefecture.

This temporary residence permit is issued to any foreigner habitually residing in France whose state of health “requires medical care without which (it) would become critical.”

His request was refused after consulting a doctor. The man then filed an appeal which was invalidated last January by the French courts, explained the Minister of the Interior.

Registered in the wanted persons file, he had been in the police’s sights “for several weeks”.

Firefighters and police officers were called “shortly before 7:00 a.m.” for a fire in the synagogue, Rouen prosecutor Frédéric Teillet previously reported during a press briefing.

When they arrived, they discovered a man armed with a kitchen knife and an iron bar (a “perforator chisel”) on the roof of the synagogue, he said.

Smoke was escaping “from the windows of the synagogue.”

The man then threw his iron bar in the direction of the police and firefighters, insulting them and jumped from the roof before running towards the deputy police officer, threatening him with his knife.

The official – who will be decorated, announced Gérald Darmanin – used his weapon after “summons remained without effect”, firing five times.

The video surveillance images establish, according to the prosecutor, that the police officer acted “under the conditions permitted by the Internal Security Code”.

The national anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office has been informed but the investigations do not fall within its scope at this stage.

Two investigations were opened. One for “arson due to religion, intentional violence with a weapon against a holder of public authority and against a person entrusted with a public service mission”. Another procedure is entrusted to the general inspectorate of the national police (IGPN) on the circumstances of the suspect’s death.

The mayor of Rouen, Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol, told journalists that the man had thrown a Molotov cocktail into the synagogue. He called for a rally in support of the Jewish community at 6:00 p.m. in front of Rouen town hall.

A rally will be organized at the same time in Paris, Place de la République.

Representatives of the Jewish community in France were moved by a new attack against him.

Elie Korchia, president of the Central Consistory of France, declared on X that “a new anti-Semitic drama” had been avoided, in a tense context linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

During the dinner of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (Crif), on May 6, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal reported “a 300% increase” in anti-Semitic acts in France in the first quarter (366 acts), compared to the first three months of 2023.

(Written by Zhifan Liu and Sophie Louet with Dominique Vidalon, edited by Kate Entringer and Bertrand Boucey)

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