FRANCE

A fourth synagogue petrol-bombed in Paris

Arsonists have thrown petrol bombs at a synagogue in the suburbs of Paris, the fourth such incident since Israel began its offensive in the Gaza Strip. French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised severe punishment for those responsible.

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AFP - Vandals hurled petrol bombs at a synagogue in a Paris suburb Thursday in the latest outbreak of anti-Semitic violence in France since the start of Israel's Gaza offensive, firefighters and police said.

The main entrance door to the synagogue at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, southeast of Paris, was damaged by fire and a police source said it remained unclear whether one or several petrol bombs were thrown.

Home to Europe's biggest Muslim and Jewish populations, France has recorded more than 55 anti-Semitic incidents since Israel launched its Gaza offensive last month, drawing appeals for calm from politicians and religious leaders.

Three other synagogues have been fire-bombed in the past two weeks and vandals have daubed anti-Israeli graffiti on at least two other Jewish places of worship.

President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday vowed "zero tolerance" for hate violence and warned "there is no place in the republic for anti-Semites or Islamophobes."

He has promised severe punishment for "those who want to import to France" the Arab-Israeli conflict in Gaza.

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