France interior minister ups security at synagogues in wake of Paris attack

Special protection ordered for Yom Kippur after 2 wounded in stabbing during trial over 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo and kosher market

Illustrative: French police officer guards the synagogue of Biarritz, southwestern France, January 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
Illustrative: French police officer guards the synagogue of Biarritz, southwestern France, January 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday that he had ordered an increase in security at synagogues following a stabbing attack in Paris outside the former offices of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

“I have given instructions that all symbolic sites that have experienced attacks be protected,” Darmanin said in an interview with the France 2 television network. “During this weekend and on Monday, a particularly important festival for our Jewish compatriots, I also asked for special protection of synagogues.”

Two people were critically wounded in Friday’s attack near Charlie Hebdo’s former offices in the French capital’s 11th district. The magazine’s new address is kept secret.

Darmanin said the attack was “clearly an act of Islamist terrorism.”

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin delivers a speech on the state of terrorism threat at the French General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI) in Paris, Aug. 31, 2020. (Stephen de Sakutin, Pool via AP)

It came during the trial of 14 alleged accomplices of brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, the perpetrators of the 2015 attack on the satirical weekly that was claimed by a branch of Al-Qaeda. Twelve people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were killed in the shooting attack on January 7, 2015.

A female police officer was killed a day later, followed the next day by the killing of four men in a hostage-taking at a Jewish supermarket by gunman Amedy Coulibaly.

A total of seven people are now being held in connection with Friday’s attack, including the “main perpetrator,” who was arrested not far from the scene, prosecutors said.

Police officers gather in the area of a knife attack near the former offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, September 25, 2020 in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

France’s PNAT specialist anti-terror prosecution office said it had opened a probe into charges of “attempted murder related to a terrorist enterprise” against him as well as “conspiracy with terrorists.”

According to PNAT head Jean-Francois Ricard, the suspect was an 18-year-old man. Initial indications were that he was born in Pakistan.

Charlie Hebdo has angered many Muslims around the world by publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed over the years, and in a defiant gesture reprinted some of the caricatures ahead of the trial.

AFP contributed to this report.

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