Man who tried to burn a mosque says he ‘did it to avenge the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral’

Claude Sinké, 84, confessed to the attack in Bayonne, in the south west of France, on Monday afternoon, police said

A former National Front candidate who reportedly tried to burn down a French mosque before shooting two Muslim worshippers said he did it ‘to avenge the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.’

Claude Sinké, 84, confessed to the attack in Bayonne, in the south west of France, on Monday afternoon after he was arrested at his home in Saint-Martin-de-Seignanx, police said.

He has since told prosecutors that he was convinced a blaze which swept through Notre Dame last April, causing millions of pounds worth of damage, was ’caused by Muslims’. 

His statement contradicts forensic evidence provided by police investigators, who said the fire was an accident. 

Marc Mariée, the Bayonne prosecutor, said Sinké had admitted ‘the known facts of the case’ and acted because of a conspiracy theory about Notre Dame.

He did not intend to kill anybody, he claimed, but ‘explains his behaviour by wanting to avenge the destruction of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris,’ said Mr Mariée.

Sinké, who remained in custody on Tuesday, faces two charges of ‘attempted murder,’ said Mr Mariée. 

Two men, aged 74 and 78, had challenged Sinké while he was reportedly trying to set fire to the door of the Mosque at around 3pm on Monday, and the suspect responded with gunfire.

Two men, aged 74 and 78, had challenged Sinké while he was reportedly trying to set fire to the door of the Mosque at around 3pm on Monday (Pictured: People gathered outside the mosque)

Two men, aged 74 and 78, had challenged Sinké while he was reportedly trying to set fire to the door of the Mosque at around 3pm on Monday (Pictured: People gathered outside the mosque)

Sinké, who remained in custody on Tuesday, faces two charges of 'attempted murder,' prosecutors said (Pictured: French police on Monday)

 Sinké, who remained in custody on Tuesday, faces two charges of ‘attempted murder,’ prosecutors said (Pictured: French police on Monday)

One of the victims was placed in intensive care after being shot in the throat at point blank range, but both men are now ‘in a stable condition,’ said Mr Mariée.

After reportedly wounding the two men – who have not been named – Sinké was said to have set fire to a car and disappeared.

He was later arrested by police at his home in the village of Saint-Martin-de-Seignanx after the attack on Monday.

An investigating source said: ‘Sinke drove into the grounds of the mosque in Bayonne, and was armed.

‘He tried to burn down the door, but two men aged 74 and 78 challenged him, and he responded with gunfire. There was a small explosion, when he set fire to a device.

‘The mosque was full of people at the time, and there was widespread panic. After wounding the two men, the man set fire to a car before disappearing.

One of the victims was placed in intensive care after being shot in the throat at point blank range, but both men are now 'in a stable condition', reports said (Pictured: A file photo of the Mosque of Bayonne, southwestern France)

One of the victims was placed in intensive care after being shot in the throat at point blank range, but both men are now ‘in a stable condition’, reports said (Pictured: A file photo of the Mosque of Bayonne, southwestern France)

After reportedly wounding the two men – who have not been named - Sinké was said to have set fire to a car and disappeared (Pictured: French police officers stand in front of the mosque in Bayonne, France)

After reportedly wounding the two men – who have not been named – Sinké was said to have set fire to a car and disappeared (Pictured: French police officers stand in front of the mosque in Bayonne, France)

‘He was later arrested by police at this home in the village of Saint-Martin-de-Seignanx. Weapons were found at the house.

‘It is believed that Sinke may have spent time in the military, and had strong far-Right sympathies.’

Two gas cylinders and a can full of petrol were used in the attack and later found at the scene. 

Sinké had stood for Marine Le Pen’s National Front in local elections in 2015. He gained 17.5 per cent of the popular vote in the Landes department, but did not win a seat.

The FN, which is known for its anti-Muslim sympathies, has since changed its name to the National Rally (NR).

Marine Le Pen, the current leader of the RN, insisted that the Bayonne attack did not reflect ‘the values of the National Rally’.

President Emmanuel Macron condemned the ‘odious attack’ on the mosque, saying that France ‘will never tolerate hatred.’

He added: ‘Everything will be done to punish the perpetrators and protect our compatriots of the Muslim faith.’ 

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