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At least two killed in eastern German city as Jews mark holy day

HALLE (SAALE), GERMANY: At least two people were shot dead on a street in the German city of Halle yesterday, police said, with witnesses saying that a synagogue was among the gunmen's targets as Jews marked the holy day of Yom Kippur.

One suspect was captured, but with a manhunt ongoing for the other perpetrators, security has been tightened in synagogues in other eastern German cities while Halle itself was in lockdown.

"Early indications show that two people were killed in Halle. Several shots were fired," police tweeted, urging residents to stay indoors.

Police said the "perpetrators fled in a car", adding later one suspect had been caught.

Mr Max Privorotzki, who heads the Jewish community in Halle, told Spiegel Online the perpetrators had apparently sought to enter a synagogue in the Paulus district but security measures helped "withstand the attack".

He said between 70 and 80 people were in the synagogue on a day when Jews around the world mark one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar.

The city's hospital spokesman said two people suffered serious bullet wounds and were being operated on.

Anti-terrorist prosecutors are taking over the probe given "the particular importance of the case", which involved "violent acts that affect the domestic security of the Federal Republic of Germany".

Bild daily said the shooting took place in front of the synagogue and a hand grenade was flung into a Jewish cemetery.

Witness Conrad Roessler told news channel NTV he was in a Turkish restaurant about 600m from the synagogue when "a man wearing a helmet and military uniform" tossed a hand grenade.

"The grenade hit the door and exploded," he said. "(The attacker) shot at least once in the shop; the man behind me must be dead. I hid in the toilet and locked the door."

The police would not confirm the details. - AFP

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