French police in Rouen shot dead an armed man who set fire to the city’s synagogue, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin and local officials said on Friday.

The incident occurred in central Rouen, 130 kilometres (80.78 miles) northwest of Paris, early on Friday morning, Darmanin said in a post on social network X.

The attacker’s identity and motive were still unclear. He was carrying a knife and iron bar, according to local authorities.

France hosts the Olympic Summer Games in two months and recently raised its alert status to the highest level against a complex geopolitical backdrop in the Middle East and Europe’s eastern flank.

Elie Korchia, the president of France’s Consistoire Central Jewish worshippers body, said police had “avoided another anti-Semitic tragedy”.

Regional broadcaster France 3 said fire fighters were on the site. The fire had been brought under control, a Rouen city hall official said.

Rouen’s mayor said the Normandy town was ‘battered and shocked’.

The city in 2016 was rocked by an attack later claimed by the Islamic State, when a priest was killed with a knife during service in town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, in the southern part of Rouen’s urban agglomeration.