French police shoot dead armed suspect who 'planned to set fire to synagogue'

French police have shot and killed an armed suspect outside of a synagogue, the interior minister has said.

The incident in Rouen, northern France, on Friday morning happened after the individual was intent on setting fire to the town's synagogue, Gerald Darmanin said.

"I congratulate [national police officers] for their reactivity and their courage," he added.

According to regional authorities, police rushed toward the man as smoke was rising from the synagogue.

He was carrying a knife and an iron bar when an officer shot him dead. His identity and motive are unclear.

Local broadcaster France 3 reported firefighters were at the scene. A city hall official said shortly before 8am that the fire had been brought under control.

Rouen mayor Nicolas Mayer-Rossignol also said on social media the town is "bruised and in shock".

He thanked first responders on the scene and said there were "no victims other than the armed individual".

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The president of France's Consistoire Central Jewish worshippers body Elie Korchia added police "avoided another anti-Semitic tragedy".

France has already raised its security level to its highest level ahead of the 2024 Olympics in Paris over conflict in the Middle East, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the threat of terror attacks.