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Five held over synagogue attacks

Pro-Palestinian protesters march through Antwerp  

PARIS, France -- Police in France say they have detained five people after fire bombs were hurled at a synagogue outside the capital.

Two Molotov cocktails were thrown in the Paris suburb of Kremlin-Bicetre on Wednesday night but failed to hit their apparent target and crashed without causing damage, officials from the Val de Marne region told The Associated Press on Friday.

Five people were detained and were being questioned in connection with the attack, which officials said was proof that heightened security at Jewish institutions was working. The identities of those detained were not released.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Monday said more than 1,000 police, including riot police, had been sent to reinforce officers patrolling Jewish religious sites in a dozen cities.

Meanwhile, attacks on Jewish communities continued across Europe as fighting in the Middle East escalated.

Molotov cocktails were thrown into a building next to a Jewish synagogue in the French coastal town of Montpellier on Thursday -- the latest in a string of strikes in that country against symbols of Jewish life.

France facing anti-Semitic attacks 

In separate incidents in Helsinki, Finland, a synagogue, a Jewish home for the elderly and a Jewish school were evacuated after a bomb threat was issued.

A softly spoken man had phoned the school at 10.15am (0715 GMT) on Thursday with a warning that a bomb would explode an hour later.

No bomb went off and nobody was injured in either the Finnish or French incidents.

The Finnish police took swift action to clear the area and made a thorough search using sniffer dogs.

Chief Inspector Jouko Asp told AP that "nothing happened...but we took no chances."

"These things are routine but because of the current international situation we sent in bomb squads."

Pro-Palestinian marches were held in Antwerp on Wednesday where about 2,000 protesters carried flags and banners criticising Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Earlier in the day attackers hurled two Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in the city, causing little damage and no injuries.

Former Rabbi Raphael Perez, right, and a relative arrive at the site of a synagogue fire in Strasbourg  

A synagogue in the capital Brussels on Sunday had been damaged by a firebomb assault.

Belgian police have bolstered security patrols around synagogues amid fears of growing anti-Semitism.

But France has seen the worst reported outbreak of violence.

A bus belonging to a Jewish school in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers was set ablaze on Wednesday, local officials said.

While gasoline bombs were thrown at a synagogue in Marseille on Tuesday, following a similar attack on Sunday in which another synagogue was burnt to the ground. (Full Story)

Over the weekend, attacks on Jewish targets were reported in four different towns and cities.

French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin condemned the attacks.




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