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5 French teens arrested over desecration of 250 Jewish graves

Five teens ages 15 to 17 were arrested Monday for allegedly defacing hundreds of graves at a Jewish cemetery in Sarre-Union in northeastern France, close to the border with Germany, French prosecutor Philippe Vannier said.

The prosecutor, cited by the La Voix Du Nord newspaper, said a teenager went to a police station in Sarre-Union on Monday morning and confessed he had participated in the desecration of some 250 graves. He said he had challenged several other teenagers to participate.

"Everyone is saddened and disgusted by what happened ," said Sarre-Union Mayor Marc Séné, as quoted by the newspaper. Many families who have relatives buried at the cemetery went down there on Monday to examine the extent of the damage, the mayor added.

On Sunday, President François Hollande condemned the incident as an "odious and barbaric" act and pledged to do everything needed to identify and punish those responsible as soon as possible. He is expected to visit the cemetery on Tuesday.

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