Polish police arrest suspect in arson attack on Warsaw synagogue

No one was hurt in the attack (Sergei GAPON)
No one was hurt in the attack (Sergei GAPON)

Polish police on Wednesday said they had arrested a teenager suspected of being involved in an arson attack on a Warsaw synagogue that was condemned by authorities.

In a statement published on X, formerly Twitter, Polish police said they had "arrested a 16-year-old man, Polish citizen, involved in the incident" that happened overnight Tuesday-Wednesday.

Poland's Deputy Interior Minister Czeslaw Mroczek added that the teenager was "suspected of having tried to torch the synagogue".

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, quoting the country's chief rabbi, had earlier said that "someone tried to set fire to the Nozyk synagogue with a Molotov cocktail".

"Thank God no-one was hurt," the minister added in a post on X.

"I condemn this shameful attack on the Nozyk synagogue in Warsaw," Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote on X. "Anti-Semitism has no place in Poland. There is no place for hate in Poland."

An AFP journalist at the scene saw a black stain across a window that appeared to have been caused by flames, but there was no major damage to the synagogue.

A statement from the Jewish community in Warsaw to AFP expressed its "concern and indignation" at the attack.

"Fortunately, the synagogue was empty at night and the material damage is minor," it added.

The fire from the Molotov cocktail burned itself out outside the building, said the text, from Eliza Panek, vice president of the Jewish community in Warsaw.

"For the moment, we don't know anything about the person or persons behind the attack, or their motives," she added.

Warsaw police told AFP they "always take this kind of incident seriously" and would do everything to ensure those responsible were punished.

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack and authorities have not suggested a possible motive.

But Sikorski's message speculated on who might have carried out the attack on the 20th anniversary of Poland's membership of the European Union.

"Maybe the same ones who scrawled the Stars of David in Paris?" he said.

French prosecutors started an investigation after several dozen Jewish symbols were daubed on buildings in Paris in October as tensions increased amid Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza.

France believes that Russian security services were behind the vandalism, an official French source said, but Russia has denied any involvement.