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Synagogue burnt in suspected arson

September 16, 2014

Belgian authorities say "all leads are open" in their investigation into a suspected arson at a Brussels synagogue. It was not immediately clear if the attack was motivated by anti-semitism.

Symbolbild Judentum
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/R. Hirschberger

Authorities are investigating a suspected arson attack on a synagogue in the Belgian capital of Brussels that injured three people.

The fire was first reported at around 6:30 a.m. local time, (4:30 a.m. UTC) in the suburb of Anderlecht. Three people suffered injuries resulting from smoke inhalation as a result o the blaze, officials said.

Investigators believe the evidence points to an arson attack, but it was not immediately clear if the attack was anti-semitic in nature. "All leads are open," Laurens Dumont, spokesman for the city prosecutor said.

A representative from the local Jewish population expressed doubt that the attack 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," Agence France Presse reported, citing La Derniere Heure newspaper.

The fire broke out just two days after the reopening of the Brussels Jewish Museum, which had been closed since four people were shot and killed there on May 24. A Frenchman of Algerian descent, Mehdi Nemmouce, is suspected of committing those murders.

Nemmouce, 29, is believed to have spent time fighting as part of jihadist groups in Syria. The alleged attacks sparked European fears of its citizens being radicalized abroad and then returning home to conduct attacks.

bw/ng (dpa, AFP)