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Fire destroys synagogue in southern France
Mon Apr 1, 2:42 AM ET

MARSEILLE, France - A fire destroyed a synagogue in the southern city of Marseille, police said, after a series of attacks on Jewish targets over the weekend.

Fire Destroys Synagogue in France (AP)

No injuries were reported. The fire broke out late Sunday night, shortly after police had completed a patrol of the synagogue as part of intensified security measures recently put in place at Jewish religious sites.

Police had not yet commented on the cause of the fire, which destroyed all of the synagogue's books and religious scrolls.

The same synagogue, located in the middle of a housing project in the Mediterranean port city, was the target of an attack last October, when assailants hurled a Molotov cocktail at it.

Four other attacks at Jewish sites occurred over the weekend, including fires at a synagogue in southeastern Lyon and in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

In those attacks, the synagogues suffered minor damage, mostly to their facades, and there were no injuries.

On Sunday, a gunman opened fire on a kosher butcher's shop near Toulouse, in southern France. The owner was inside at the time of the attack but unharmed.

Le Journal du Dimanche, a Sunday newspaper, reported that a Jewish couple in their 20s suffered injuries from an attack Saturday afternoon in the town of Villeurbanne, in the Rhone region. The woman, identified as pregnant, was reportedly hospitalized overnight.

The attacks coincide with the escalation of violence in the Middle East. A wave of anti-Jewish attacks first broke out in 2000, after Israeli-Palestinian fighting escalated and mounted further since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the United States.

A book published this month by a leading French anti-racism group and Jewish students chronicled about 400 recent attacks against Jews and their religious sites around the country.

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