Authorities say that two people are dead after what early reports suggest are multiple suspects — at least one wearing tactical gear — opened fire at multiple locations near a synagogue in the German town of Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
“According to initial findings, two people were killed in Halle. There were several shots,” local police said in a tweet reported by CBS News early Wednesday.
In follow-up tweets, authorities said that they had detained one suspect they believed to be connected to the attack but urged citizens to stay vigilant. Statements by officials indicate that multiple suspects were involved.
“According to initial information, two people have been killed in Halle,” a law enforcement spokesperson said in a statement reported by the Independent. “Several shots were fired. The alleged perpetrators are fleeing in a vehicle. We are asking the public to stay in their homes.”
Witnesses told German media they saw at least one of the attackers, dressed in tactical gear, open fire and then flee to a car, CBS reports. Video posted on social media appears to confirm the witness accounts, showing a suspect in “tactical gear including body armor and a helmet firing several rounds” with an unidentified weapon, the network notes.
Video has emerged showing a man dressed in tactical gear getting out of a silver car and firing what appears to be a shotgun down the street multiple times (via the Daily Mail):
Authorities say there were at least two locations targeted around the Anschlag vor Synagogue in Halle, resulting in two fatalities. According to local media, after reportedly attempting to break into the synagogue, which holds around 80 worshippers, one suspect reportedly shot and killed a passerby outside.
“The Bild newspaper reported that the attacker used a submachine gun in the assault, and threw a hand grenade into the cemetery,” the Independent reports.
Another victim was found at a nearby kebab shop.
“Konrad Rösler, a 28-year-old railway worker interviewed on German TV, said that he had been in a kebab shop when he saw a man with a helmet and military jacket launch the attack,” the Daily Mail reports. “Rösler said the attacker threw a grenade at the shop, which bounced off the door frame, before he fired shots into the shop. He said he locked himself in the toilet and heard several more loud bangs before police arrived.”
In the town of Landsberg, about 20 minutes away from Halle, another shooting was reported when a taxi driver was injured after an attempted hijacking, Bild reports. The Independent notes that police have not confirmed a connection between the incidents.
A police spokesman told the press that they do not yet have “any indication about the motive of this act.”
As reported by CBS, the attack comes amid an increase in anti-Semitic acts in Germany, authorities citing over 400 reports of anti-Semitic attacks in the first half of 2018, which constitutes a 10% increase over the previous year. CBS links the attacks to “a marked rise of extreme nationalist groups in Germany.”
The Independent reports that the attack comes two days after a 32-year-old Syrian man allegedly hijacked a truck and deliberately drove it into victims, resulting in multiple minor injuries and an investigation into possible Islamist motivations.
This is a developing story; updates to come as more information comes to light.