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THE MIDDLE EAST

Arson Attack Missed Target, French Say

April 05, 2002|From Associated Press

MONTPELLIER, France — Assailants threw a barrage of Molotov cocktails Thursday into a building here they mistook for a Jewish synagogue located next door, the region's top official said.

Three youths picked up about 200 yards from the site were detained for questioning, police said, without providing more details.

The fire-bombing followed a string of recent attacks on Jewish targets that has coincided with heightened tension in the Middle East. Two synagogues in Marseille, like Montpellier on the Mediterranean coast, were among the targets.

In the Thursday attack, two offices in the building that houses the Herault region's environmental agency were badly burned, police said. There were no injuries in the early-morning incident. Jewish leaders joined Herault Prefect Daniel Constantin and Montpellier Mayor Georges Freche at the site.

"It's probably an act by young delinquents," Constantin said. "Visibly, there was no preparation . . . since they mistook the building."

Despite such attacks, Economy Minister Laurent Fabius, who is Jewish, said on Europe 1 radio Thursday that "France is not anti-Semitic."

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