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French Soldiers Attacked Outside Jewish Community Center


Soldiers stand guard after an attacker with a knife hidden in his bag attacked three soldiers on an anti-terror patrol in front of a Jewish community center in Nice, southern France, Feb. 3, 2015.

Three French soldiers were attacked Tuesday by a knife-wielding assailant outside a Jewish community center in the southern French city of Nice.

Two of the servicemen were injured. Both were treated at the scene. Police sources said the soldiers' lives were not in danger.

President Francois Hollande issued a statement condemning what he called a "criminal act" and promised the incident would be investigated.

The soldiers were on patrol outside the Jewish center as part of stepped-up security measures in France following last month's attacks in Paris on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a kosher grocery that left 20 people dead, including the attackers.

City authorities said that the attacker had an identity card with the name Moussa Coulibaly. The family name, relatively common among people of Malian descent, is the same as that of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed a policeman and four Jewish shoppers in last month's attack on the kosher grocery in Paris. Police said the two apparently were not related.

According to police, French security services questioned Moussa Coulibaly after he traveled to Turkey on a one-way ticket in late January. Turkish police blocked him from traveling along a route used by jihadi fighters from Europe to join Islamic extremist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq and returned him to France.

Earlier Tuesday, French authorities in Paris and Lyon arrested eight people suspected of belonging to a group involved in recruiting young people to join Islamic extremists fighting in Syria.

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