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Holocaust survivor stabbed and burned in anti-Semitic attack

French authorities say the killing of an elderly Jewish woman in Paris is being investigated as an anti-Semitic murder.  The woman, identified in French media as Mireille Knoll, was stabbed at least 11 times and her body was set on fire on the street outside her home of 50 years.

The victim had reportedly escaped a round-up of Jews in Paris during World War II and eventually survived the Holocaust.  A Jewish group, CRIF, said the 85-year-old woman was slain last week in Paris’ eastern 11th district. A neighbor who had previously made anti-Semitic statements was one of the people under arrest.  Local reports say that the man was Muslim.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said this week two suspects have been put in custody. It said it is asking investigating judges to charge the pair with premeditated murder of a vulnerable person for anti-Semitic motives.

The office also asked for the suspects to be jailed pending trial.

CRIF asked for “utmost transparency in the ongoing investigation so that the reasons for this barbaric crime are known to everyone as soon as possible.”

The group plans a rally in her memory and support of her family on Wednesday.

The body was found the same day a Muslim gunmen killed several people in an attack on a supermarket in southern France.

Anti-Semitism is rapidly increasing across Europe and especially in Paris. Police report that many of the attacks are at the hands of young muslims–often recent immigrants to the country–and that the targets are often elderly Jews.

When Sarah Halimi, 65, died last April in Paris, her family and Jewish groups blamed anti-Semitism.

Kobili Traore, 27, who was arrested the day after the killing, went before the instructing magistrate on Tuesday who finally added anti-Semitism to the charges, the source said.

Traore was Halimi’s neighbour and allegedly broke into her apartment in a public housing development in eastern Paris on the night of April 3.

Amid shouts of “Allah Akbar” (God is great), Koranic verses and insults, he beat Halimi before throwing her out of the window of the high-rise building.

“I’ve killed the demon,” he allegedly shouted in Arabic.

The murder stirred debate over anti-Semitism and violence in working-class districts of France and is fueling an exodus of Jews leaving France for Israel.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.