At­tack on Ger­man syn­a­gogue leaves 2 dead on Yom Kip­pur

The Morning Call - - NATION & WORLD - By Geir Moul­son and Jens Meyer

HALLE, Ger­many — A heav­ily armed as­sailant rant­ing about Jews tried to force his way into a syn­a­gogue in Ger­many on Yom Kip­pur, Ju­daism’s holi­est day, then shot two peo­ple to death nearby in an at­tack Wed­nes­day that was livestream­ed on a pop­u­lar gam­ing site.

The at­tacker shot at the door of the syn­a­gogue in the east­ern city of Halle but did not get in as 70 to 80 peo­ple in­side were ob­serv­ing the holy day.

He said be­fore the shoot­ing that Jews were “the root” of “prob­lems” such as fem­i­nism and “mass im­mi­gra­tion,” ac­cord­ing to a group that tracks on­line ex­trem­ism. It said a roughly 36-minute video posted on­line fea­tured the as­sailant, who spoke a com­bi­na­tion of Eng­lish and Ger­man, deny­ing the Holo­caust be­fore he shot a wo­man in the street af­ter fail­ing to en­ter the syn­a­gogue. He then en­tered a nearby ke­bab shop and killed an­other per­son be­fore flee­ing.

Ger­many’s top se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, In­te­rior Min­is­ter Horst See­hofer, said au­thor­i­ties must as­sume that it was an an­tiSemitic at­tack, and said prose­cu­tors be­lieve there may be a right-wing ex­trem­ist mo­tive. He said sev­eral peo­ple were hurt.

Au­thor­i­ties said shortly af­ter the shoot­ing that a per­son had been ar­rested, but ad­vised res­i­dents to stay in­doors for sev­eral hours.

The at­tack “strikes the Jewish com­mu­nity, Jewish peo­ple not just in Ger­many but par­tic­u­larly in Ger­many, to the core,” said the coun­try’s main Jewish leader, Josef Schus­ter. “It was, I think, only lucky cir­cum­stances that pre­vented a big­ger mas­sacre.”

The film­ing of Wed­nes­day’s at­tack echoed an­other hor­rific shoot­ing half­way around the world when a far-right white su­prem­a­cist in March killed 51 peo­ple at two mosques in Christchur­ch, New Zealand and livestream­ed much of the at­tack on Face­book. That mas­sacre drew strong crit­i­cism of so­cial me­dia gi­ants for not im­me­di­ately find­ing and block­ing such a vi­o­lent video.

The head of Halle’s Jewish com­mu­nity, Max Priv­o­rozki, told news mag­a­zine Der Spiegel that a sur­veil­lance 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.”

A video clip shown on 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 long­bar­reled gun.

Con­rad Roessler said he was in the ke­bab shop when a man with a hel­met and a mil­i­tary jacket threw some­thing that looked like a grenade, which bounced off the door frame. He said the man then shot into the shop.

“All the cus­tomers next to me ran; of course I did too. I think there were five or six of us in there,” Roessler told n-tv tele­vi­sion. “The man be­hind me prob­a­bly died.”

“I hid in the toi­let,” he added. “The oth­ers looked for the back en­trance. I didn’t know if there was one. I locked my­self qui­etly in this toi­let, and wrote to my fam­ily that I love them, and waited for some­thing to hap­pen.”

ANDREAS SPLETT/ATV-STU­DIO HALLE

A man fires a weapon in Halle, east­ern Ger­many, on Wed­nes­day. Po­lice said two peo­ple were shot dead.

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