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An octogenarian accused of wounding two men in a shooting at a mosque in southern France earlier this week has been charged and ordered held in detention, the prosecutor's office said on Wednesday, according to the AFP news agency.

Claude Sinke, who stood as a candidate for the far-right National Rally in 2015 regional elections, tried to set fire to a mosque in Bayonne in the south-west on Monday, and shot two men, aged 74 and 78, who came out to investigate.

On Tuesday, investigators said the 84-year-old had wanted to avenge the burning of the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in April, which he blamed on Muslims.

Investigators added there were questions about his mental health.

The prosecutor's office said in a statement that Sinke, who risks life imprisonment, is now being held on attempted murder, arson, and gun violence charges.

Being charged does not necessarily mean a suspect will go to trial.

Monday's attack further unsettled France, which is already engulfed in a sometimes bitter debate about the observance of Islam in the secular country.

The country has been hit by a wave of Islamist terrorist attacks in recent years, beginning with the 2015 attack on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine which was followed by the attack on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in which four people were murdered.

Since those attacks, France has been hit by a number of attacks claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS), the biggest one being the attack in November of 2015 in which 129 people were murdered.

More recently, a police employee who converted to Islam and became radicalized stabbed four colleagues to death.