A shooting at a German synagogue and kebab shop was an anti-Semitic act of right-wing extremism, German officials say.
As The Guardian reports, two people were killed on Wednesday at and near a synagogue in the German city of Halle, southwest of Berlin. Authorities say that around noon local time, about 70-80 worshippers had gathered in the synagogue for the celebration of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Their worship was interrupted when a masked gunman, bedecked in military apparel, attempted to force his way into the building.
The door was locked, preventing the assailant from getting in. However, Max Privorotzki, the head of the Jewish community in Halle, said that the assailant still made every effort to cause as much mayhem as possible.
“The attacker repeatedly shot at the door and also threw several Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and grenades to force his way in,” Privorotzki said.
Fortunately, the assailant wasn’t able to get inside, even though he spent an estimated five to 10 minutes at it.
“God protected us,” Privorotzki said, noting that worship continued after the attack.
Stymied by security at the building, the gunman then turned his attention to people outside. He fatally shot a woman, believed to be a member of the Jewish community, and then went to a nearby kebab shop where he shot and killed a man, who by all accounts was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Two other people were injured in the attack.
Echoes of Christchurch
In a situation eerily reminiscent of the March 15 Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shooting, which killed 51 people, the assailant in the Halle synagogue shooting wore a head-mounted camera and recorded the attacks. Similarly, like the Christchurch shooter, the assailant posted right-wing extremist and, in this case, anti-Semitic propaganda online along with the video.
German interior minister Horst Seehofer was clear that by all indications, this appears to be a terrorist attack carried out by a right-wing extremist.
“Based on current information, we have to assume that it was at least an antisemitic attack. According to the federal prosecutors’ office, there are enough indications that it was possibly a right-wing extremist motive. They have taken over the investigations,” he said.
Whether or not the assailant acted alone remains unclear. According to a tweet from police at 12:44 local time, authorities had detained one person. However, that same tweet also encouraged citizens to remain alert while police try to sort things out.