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Hundreds Of Jewish Headstones Vandalized At French Cemetery

As many as 300 tombstones were defaced with swastikas and Nazi symbols in Sarre-Union, a town in northeastern France. Authorities have detained five minors as suspects.

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Updated: Feb. 18., 5:30 p.m.: On Wednesday, the five teens faced preliminary charges after they were accused of desecrating a Jewish cemetery in France.

The prosecutor said that it seemed clear that the teens had an "anti-Semitic motive," the Associated Press reported.

Prosecutor Philippe Vannier said that all five boys admitted that they played a role in vandalizing 250 graves in addition to a Holocaust memorial in the cemetery, and allegedly called out "anti- Semitic epithets and proffered Nazi salutes during the incident."

Approximately 300 of 400 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union were desecrated Sunday. Many of the grave markers were overturned, and some were marked with anti-Semitic symbols.

“@PzFeed: Hundreds of Jewish graves defaced today in a cemetery in the town of Sarre Union in northeastern France. ”

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“@PzFeed:

Hundreds of Jewish graves defaced today in a cemetery in the town of Sarre Union in northeastern France.

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French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the incident a hate crime, and told France24 that "the country will not tolerate this new injury which goes against the values that all French people share."

Local prosecutors have since arrested five suspects, aged from 15 to 17, all of whom are from the region. One turned himself in after realizing the uproar the attack caused on social media. Legally, they can be detained for 48 hours before being charged or let go.

The attack on the Sarre-Union cemetery came one month after a terrorist attack by Amedy Coulibaly inside a kosher supermarket in Paris.

French President Francois Hollande attempted to reassure French Jews of their safety, the Associated Press reported.

"We know there are doubts, questions across the community," he said. "I will not just let what was said in Israel pass, leading people to believe that Jews no longer have a place in Europe and in France in particular."

Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.

Contact Tamerra Griffin at tamerra.griffin@buzzfeed.com.

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