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Two killed in shooting in eastern Germany near a synagogue

Published: Updated:

Several shots were fired Wednesday in the eastern German city of Halle, leaving two people dead as the suspected assailants fled, police said. One person was killed near a synagogue on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur and a witness reported that a nearby kebab shop also was attacked.

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.

A Jewish leader said one assailant had tried to force his way into the synagogue Wednesday on Yom Kippur, when synagogues are busy, but did not get in.

Officers were out in force across Halle, a city of 240,000, hunting down more suspects and urging residents to stay at home or indoors. The city's train station was closed down as a precaution.

Federal prosecutors, who in Germany handle cases involving suspected terrorism or national security, took over the investigation.

The United States "strongly condemns the attack on a synagogue,” the US embassy said.

"Yom Kippur is a time when people gather together in houses of prayer to reflect on the year past. Today's attack is an attack on all of us and the perpetrators must be held accountable," the mission said in a statement.

"We mourn the victims of this senseless act of violence," it added, while expressing gratitude "for the actions of first responders".

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged a tougher fight against anti-Semitism.

“That on the Day of Atonement a synagogue was shot at hits us in the heart,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Wednesday wrote on Twitter. “We must all act against anti-Semitism in our country.