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Armed group vandalizes Caracas' oldest synagogue

February 01, 2009|Associated Press

CARACAS, VENEZUELA — An armed group vandalized Caracas' oldest synagogue, shattering religious objects and spray-painting walls in what Jewish leaders called the worst attack ever on their community in Venezuela.

Two security guards were overpowered late Friday by about 15 people who left graffiti such as, "We don't want murderers," and "Jews, get out." The synagogue canceled Saturday's worship service.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro condemned the attack, while reiterating his government's opposition to the Israeli government. "We respect the Jewish people, but we ask respect for the people of Palestine and their right to life," Maduro said in a ceremony called to welcome home two Venezuelan diplomats expelled from Israel last week.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry ordered the envoys to leave after Venezuela expelled all Israeli diplomats on Jan. 6 to protest Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.

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