Belgian synagogue hit by suspected arson attack

2014-09-16 19:34

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Brussels - Belgian authorities were on Tuesday investigating a suspected arson attack on a synagogue in the capital Brussels, prosecutors said.

Jewish community officials said it was not immediately clear whether it was an anti-Semitic attack, although the building had been the target of petrol bombers in 2010.

The wife and two children of the synagogue's caretaker suffered slight smoke inhalation in the fire on the top floor of the building, where they lived, said Laurens Dumont, a spokesperson for the city prosecutor. The caretaker was absent at the time.

Dumont said "it would seem that the fire was set deliberately" at the synagogue in the Brussels neighbourhood of Anderlecht near the main train station, but the investigation was in its early stages.

"All leads are open," Dumont said.

A fire department spokesperson quoted in La Derniere Heure newspaper said arsonists started the fire in the fourth floor of the synagogue in the early hours of Tuesday.

An official from the neighbourhood's Jewish community, Jehuda Guttman, told the newspaper he did not know for now whether the event was anti-Semitic.

"If this act had been anti-Semitic, the perpetrators would have burned the Torah, sacred books. And that's not the case. I can only guess. Here, we live in peace with everyone," he was quoted as saying.

The fire came just two days after the reopening on Sunday of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, where four people were shot and killed on 24 May.

Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman of Algerian descent allegedly aligned to the radical Islamic State, is being held in Belgium suspected of carrying out the murders.

He was arrested six days after the shooting in the southern French port of Marseille and later extradited to Belgium.

On Sunday evening, stones were thrown at a group visiting the National Memorial to the Jewish Martyrs of Belgium, which is also located in the Anderlecht district.

Read more on:    belgium

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