Shooting Near Synagogue in Eastern Germany Kills Two
BERLIN—Two people were killed in a shooting near a synagogue in the eastern German city of Halle and a suspect was subsequently arrested, police said Wednesday.
A police spokesman told the N24 news channel a woman had been shot dead on the street, as had a man in a kebab restaurant. Police advised residents to stay indoors.
The office of the general federal prosecutor, which deals with serious crime, took over the murder investigation because of the seriousness of the attack and the risks to domestic security, a spokesman said, declining to confirm whether it was treating the case as a terrorist act.
An official in Halle’s city hall confirmed the shooting took place near a synagogue.
Witnesses reported that an attacker had thrown a grenade at the city’s Jewish cemetery, according to the police spokesman, who added that police were investigating the claim.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many suspects were involved, what motivated the attack, or if there were other injuries. The spokesman said there were indications from witnesses that several suspects might have been involved.
A witness told N24 the attacker was sporting militarylike combat clothing.
The city of Halle, located some 24 miles from Leipzig, declared an emergency situation and all fire brigades were on alert, with residents advised not to leave buildings or homes until further notice, a spokesman for the city said.
In Berlin, meanwhile, the city’s government said it had ordered police to step up security around Jewish community buildings.
Synagogues, Jewish schools, memorials and other buildings associated with the community normally have permanent police protection across the country.
There were two police cars and at least four officers gathered in front of the Lauder Yeshurun, home to a synagogue and a kindergarten in Berlin, at midday on Wednesday, instead of the two who normally guard the building.
The shooting took place on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Jewish leaders in Germany have complained about a rise in anti-Semitic acts in the country, in particular after the arrival of hundreds of thousands of mainly Middle Eastern migrants since 2015.
Authorities also raised the alarm this year about violent racist and anti-Semitic groups. A suspected neo-Nazi terror cell went on trial for terrorism on Sept. 30 for allegedly planning an attack in Berlin.
A pro-immigration politician was killed in June, and a bomb targeted the house of another liberal politician in July. The same month, an Eritrean immigrant was gunned down on the street by a self-declared xenophobe.
Police on Monday arrested a 32-year-old Syrian refugee suspected of stealing a truck and driving it into traffic in Limburg, western Germany, leaving eight people wounded. Authorities aren’t treating that incident as a terrorist attack.