PARIS (Mar. 27)
A powerful bomb exploded today in a Jewish students restaurant in the Latin Quarter injuring 26 people, three of whom are described in critical condition. An organization describing itself as “opposed to Zionist influence in France and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty” assumed responsibility for the attack.
The bomb exploded shortly after 12:30 p.m. but before the rush hour started. There were only some 40 people in the restaurant at the time of the attack. Half an hour later, over 150 students normally crowd into the Latin Quarter kosher restaurant, the only kosher institution of its kind in the Quarter.
Minutes after the explosion police units rushed to other Jewish communal centers in Paris to evacuate them. Over 300 people were asked to leave Paris main communal center, “The Rashi,” as they were about to start their meal. Other Jewish organizations were advised by the police to take special precautions as “additional attacks are possible.”
Buses with French riot police were also rushed to the Israeli-Embassy, the Jewish Agency, El Al and other offices associated with Israel. Police officials privately said that more attacks might be attempted in coming days or hours.
The Palestine Liberation Organization representative in France, Ibrahim Suss, said that his organization was not responsible for the attack. He said “We shall wage our battle in the occupied territories and not in France.” Suss said he was sending a message of condolence to the Chief Rabbi of France to express his and the PLO’s “sympathy and regrets.” Suss also ruled out the possibility that extremist Palestinian elements carried out the attack, saying this “seems to be the work of anti-Semitic local forces.”
An eyewitness to the explosion, Michael Borowsky, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the explosives seemed to have been hidden under a pile of crates near the main door. Borowsky said the people sitting closest to the door were the most seriously wounded. One of them had his scalp blown off by the blast and the hail of flying glass. Another lost an eye and part of his face.
One of the canteen managers told JTA that there was no panic and that people filed out quietly in spite of the smoke and the noise of the blast. Neighbors said, however, that the people inside the canteen rushed out, trampling over the bodies of some of the wounded. One of the neighbors, who did not want to be identified, said: “It was a mad scene, with wounded people and blood everywhere.” Jewish organizations in France took a grave view of the incident and Alain de Rothschild, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France, visited the wrecked restaurant where he conferred with the police.
Earlier today a shop owned by a Jewish family, situated in the center of Paris near the Place de Opera, had its show window broken. The owners. David and Rosette Azoulay, themselves immigrants from Egypt, said they had received no threats. The attack took place at 4 a. m. while the business area is deserted. Police sources believe the attack might be linked with yesterday’s signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, as the shop, which specializes in tax-free gifts for tourists, is regularly used by El Al crews and many Israeli tourists.