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Arson Suspected in Burning of 3 French Jewish Dormitories

Fire investigators reported evidence of arson in the blaze which destroyed three dormitories of a six-building complex that houses a Jewish Religious school in the Paris suburb of Sarcelles during the night of May 19-20. There were no injuries.

Police sources and members of the local Jewish community said Sunday they believe the fire was the work of young hoodlums whose intent was more criminal than anti-Semitic. Obscene graffiti was found on the walls, but nothing of an anti-Semitic nature. The synagogue and community center within the complex were not damaged.

Police Minister Robert Pandraud and Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, who visited the site, pledged that no effort would be spared to find and punish the arsonists.

There are nearly 20,000 Jews in Sarcelles, mainly of North African origin, who comprise 16 percent of the local population. Other residents are French North Africans and recent arrivals from the French West Indies. Some community members suspect criminal elements among the residents were responsible for the fire.

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