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Jewish teens say they escaped axe attack near Paris

(JTA) — Two Jewish teenagers told police they narrowly escaped an attack near Paris by a hatchet-wielding man and three others.

The attack occurred late at night on June 4 in Romainville, a northeastern suburb of the French capital, according to a report by the National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism, or BNVCA.

The teens, aged 14 and 15, said they were walking to the Lilac Synagogue with their grandfather to attend Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a custom in which Jews study scripture all night. While crossing the town’s Market Square, the two boys and their grandfather, all wearing kippahs, said they were followed by a tall man in his 20s wearing a long beard. They described the man as having an athletic figure and an Arab appearance.

Producing a hatchet, the man began to chase the two boys, according to the BNVCA report, then whistled to three other men who joined the chase.  The boys and their grandfather filed complaints with police, BNVCA President Sammy Ghozlan wrote.

Last month, BNVCA and SPCJ, the watchdog of France’s Jewish communities, documented two suspected anti-Semitic beatings of Jews in the Paris suburb of Creteil. Also last month, police received a report about three men who were filming the entrance to the local Jewish school of Creteil, Otzar Hatora.

In March 2012, France saw a sharp increase in anti-Semitic acts following the murder by an Islamist radical of four Jews at a Jewish school in Toulouse.

On May 24, four people were killed in an armed attack at the Jewish Museum of Belgium in central Brussels.

French and Belgium police believe they were shot dead by Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old Frenchman whom French authorities said fought in Syria with jihadists last year.

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