Belgian synagogue hit in arson attack
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Belgian synagogue hit in arson attack

Caretaker's wife and two children suffer smoke inhalation; Torah scrolls and prayer books unharmed

A synagogue in the Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, that was targeted by arsonists, September 15, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Télé Bruxelles)
A synagogue in the Anderlecht neighborhood of Brussels, Belgium, that was targeted by arsonists, September 15, 2014. (screen capture: YouTube/Télé Bruxelles)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — A fire that broke out at a synagogue near Brussels was the result of arson, a Belgian watchdog said.

Three people, the wife and two children of the synagogue’s caretaker, had to be treated for inhaling smoke on Tuesday at the synagogue on de la Clinique Street in Anderlecht, one of the municipalities that make up the Brussels region, the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, or LBCA, wrote in a statement. Unknown individuals deliberately set fire to four places so it would catch, according to the report.

LBCA President Joel Rubinfeld wrote that Belgian police confirmed they believed the fire was the result of criminal activity.

The building had been the target of petrol bombers in 2010.

Laurens Dumont, a spokesman for the city prosecutor said the caretaker was absent at the time.

Dumont said “it would seem that the fire was set deliberately” at the synagogue in the Brussels neighborhood of Anderlecht near the main train station, but the investigation was in its early stages.

“All leads are open,” Dumont said.

A fire department spokesman quoted in La Derniere Heure newspaper said arsonists started the fire in the fourth floor of the synagogue in the early hours of Tuesday.

The fire came just two days after the reopening on Sunday of the Jewish Museum in Brussels, where four people were shot and killed on May 24.

Mehdi Nemmouche, a Frenchman of Algerian descent allegedly aligned to the radical Islamic State, is being held in Belgium suspected of carrying out the murders.

He was arrested six days after the shooting in the southern French port of Marseille and later extradited to Belgium.

On Sunday evening, stones were thrown at a group visiting the National Memorial to the Jewish Martyrs of Belgium, which is also located in the Anderlecht district.

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