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Five French teenagers detained over Jewish cemetery vandalism

The Jewish cemetery at Sarre-Union in Alsace after the attack
The Jewish cemetery at Sarre-Union in Alsace after the attack AFP

Five teenage boys have been detained over the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in eastern France Sunday. One of them went to police to confess, prosecutors said Monday afternoon.

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The adolescents, aged between 15 and 17, were taken in for questioning in the Sarre-Union region of Alsace after the youngest came forward, shocked by the outcry at the profanation, public prosecutor Philippe Vannier announced.

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He denied that the act was motivated by anti-Semitism and said that he and his friends thought the cemetery was abandoned, Vannier said.

He also gave police his friends’ names.

The total number of graves and monuments damaged was 250, according to Vannier.

“Some of the vaults have also been opened without any harm being done to the deceased,” the prosecutor added.

Coming in the wake of last month's murder of shoppers in a Jewish supermarket and Saturday's attack on a café and synagogue in Denmark, the vandalism sparked widespread condemnations of anti-Semitism, notably by President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

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