Shots were fired outside a synagogue and into a kebab shop in an eastern German city on Wednesday, Judaism’s holiest day, witnesses said. Police said that two people were killed and the assailant or assailants fled.
An attacker tried to force his way into the synagogue in the city of Halle but did not get in as 70 to 80 people inside were observing Yom Kippur, a local Jewish leader said.
Police said in a tweet that the suspects fled in a car, and soon after reported that one person had been arrested. They gave no information about that person, or the suspected target or targets, or why they thought the attack may have been carried out by multiple assailants.
Officers were out in force across Halle, a city of 240,000. They initially urged residents to stay at home, and the city’s train station was closed. Several hours later, police said that there was no longer an “acute” danger to the population and residents could go back into the streets.
They didn’t specify why the assessment had changed, but news agency dpa and newspaper Bild cited unidentified security sources as saying the evidence points to a lone assailant.
Federal prosecutors, who in Germany handle cases involving suspected terrorism or national security, took over the investigation.
A video clip broadcast by regional public broadcaster MDR showed a man in a helmet and an olive-colored top getting out of a car and firing four shots from behind the vehicle from a long-barreled gun. It wasn’t clear what he was shooting at.
Pictures from the scene showed a body lying in the street behind a police cordon. The body was lying opposite a synagogue, about 30 meters (yards) away from the building, dpa reported.
The head of Halle’s Jewish community, Max Privorozki, told German news magazine Der Spiegel that a camera at the entrance of the synagogue showed a person trying to break into the building.
“The assailant shot several times at the door and also threw several Molotov cocktails, firecrackers or grenades to force his way in,” he said. “But the door remained closed – God protected us. The whole thing lasted perhaps five to 10 minutes.”
Privorozki said there were 70 or 80 people inside the synagogue when the shooting occurred. Dpa quoted unidentified security sources as saying that an assailant laid home-made explosives outside.
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Source: Religion News Service