A gunman at a German synagogue ranted about feminism, immigration and Jews before he shot two people dead in a Yom Kippur rampage today.
The attacker live-streamed the attack in Halle this afternoon in which he killed two people, threw a grenade into a Jewish cemetery and left explosives near the synagogue after failing to force his way inside.
In the 35-minute video he bemoaned his failure to get inside the synagogue and talked about the Holocaust, women’s rights and immigration.
The suspect, named by Bild as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, was later arrested after trying to flee in a taxi, according to German media.
This evening Germany’s interior minister said it appeared to be an anti-Semitic attack, possibly motivated by right-wing extremism, while Chancellor Angela Merkel offered her ‘deep sympathy’.
Wearing military fatigues and a helmet camera, the man shot a woman dead in the street after failing to get inside the synagogue where around 80 people were praying.
Another man was then shot dead after the gunman drove to a kebab shop close to the synagogue before opening fire a second time.
Video taken outside the shop shows a man dressed in military fatigues firing what appears to be a shotgun into the street and his face is then revealed as he walks back up the road.
Witnesses said the attacker also used a submachine gun during the attack and threw a grenade into the Jewish cemetery, leaving people injured.
Improvised explosive devices were also left outside the front of the synagogue as the terrified congregation barricaded themselves inside.
Halle residents were initially urged to stay inside while police hunted for a possible second attacker, but authorities now believe there was only one gunman.
The German synagogue attacker, named in German media as 27-year-old Stephan Balliet, in a live-stream of the attack today
Face of the attacker: After the failed attack on the synagogue the shooters fled in a car, and then began attacking people at a nearby kebab shop (pictured, a gunman in the street near the shop)
A man and a woman were shot dead in an attack on a synagogue in Halle, central Germany, on Wednesday, while several others were injured. A gunman is pictured outside a kebab shop close to the synagogue
Jewish leaders say the attackers tried to get into the synagogue in Halle during prayers for Yom Kippur, but were stopped by ‘security measures’. A woman was then shot dead in the street outside (pictured, an attacker)
Armed police swarmed to the scene after the attackers opened fire. Witnesses said they used a submachine gun before throwing a grenade into a Jewish cemetery
A body lies in the street outside the synagogue, believed to be that of a female passerby who was gunned down when attackers failed to get into the synagogue
A kebab shop where a man is thought to have been shot dead after the gunman threw an explosive at the entrance, then fired shots into the restaurant
An armed officer runs to his vehicle in Halle. Police say they have arrested one suspect and are looking for others
Policemen climb over a wall close to the site of a shooting in Halle an der Saale, eastern Germany
Special police forces officers armed with sub-machine guns patrol after the attack in Halle an der Saale on Wednesday
Police officers with an armoured vehicle block a road in Halle, Germany, amid reports that some of the gunmen fled in a car
A police robot examines evidence at the scene of a shooting in Halle, eastern Germany, outside a synagogue. There are reports that grenades were using during the attack
Residents in Halle, a city of 240,000 people in eastern Germany, had initially been urged to stay at home and the city’s train station was closed during a manhunt for possible further attackers.
However, that lockdown was lifted this evening because ‘the endangerment level for the population is no longer seen as acute,’ authorities said.
‘According to what we now know we have to assume that it was at least an anti-Semitic attack,’ interior minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement tonight.
‘According to the federal prosecutor there are sufficient indications for a possible right-wing extremist motive,’ the politician said.
Bild reports that at least two people have been taken to a nearby hospital with gunshot wounds, where one is undergoing surgery.
Footage of the attack appeared on live-streaming site Twitch, although it is not yet clear whether the gunman posted it there himself.
The company said it ‘worked with urgency to remove this content’ and said any account found to be posting or reposting ‘content of this abhorrent act’ would be permanently suspended.
In the 35-minute video, the gunman is seen attempting to force his way inside a synagogue after finding a door locked.
He gets an explosive out of his car and tries to blow up a gate at the side of the building, but the blast makes minimal impact.
When a woman confronts him, asking if his behaviour was ‘really necessary’, he shoots her dead.
The gunman then tries to shoot the door of the synagogue open, but without success, and is heard bemoaning his failure to get inside.
He then drives on to a kebab shop, where he fires more gunshots while people cower behind drinks machines and plead for mercy. He shoots one of them dead.
Jewish worshippers were sealed inside the synagogue for several hours while police cleared the surrounding area, before finally being allowed out. Pictured, a family celebrates their freedom
Local Jewish leaders said that attackers had attempted to get into the synagogue but security measures ‘withstood the attack’ before they began shooting elsewhere
While the attackers appeared to have been targeting the synagogue, Jewish community leaders said that none of the victims of the shooting appeared to be Jewish
Synagogue visitors sit in a bus after a shooting in Halle after police relaxed the cordon enough for them to leave
After firing further gunshots in the road and returning briefly to the kebab shop, he drives around calling himself a ‘loser’ before abandoning the vehicle.
According to German media, he commandeered a taxi by shooting the driver and made it around 40 miles away to Werschen before a collision with a lorry held him up and he was arrested.
Gunshots were later reported in Landsberg, 10 miles from Halle, though it was not immediately clear if they were linked.
Tonight Angela Merkel attended an evening vigil at a historic synagogue in central Berlin in honour of the victims of the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack, saying it was ‘a new expression of anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe’.
Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said it was a ‘deep shock for all Jews in Germany’.
‘This act in Halle on the highest Jewish holiday Yom Kippur has deeply troubled and scared our community,’ Schuster, Mr Schuster said in a statement.
‘The brutality of the attack surpasses everything we have seen in recent years and is a deep shock for all Jews in Germany. The fact a synagogue was not protected by police on a holiday like Yom Kippur is a scandal.’
Rescued members of the Jewish community wait inside a bus near the scene of a shooting that has left two people dead
Police have advised residents to shelter in their homes while they continue scouring the area for more attackers
A helicopter takes off as police secure the area between Wiedersdorf and Landsberg near Halle, eastern Germany
An officer leads a bomb-sniffing dog across the street in Halle, following reports that grenades were thrown by gunmen who targeted a synagogue in the city
A helicopter lands as police secure the area between Wiedersdorf and Landsberg near Halle, eastern Germany. Gunshots were also reported in those two towns, which sit near Halle
Police officers walk on a road in Halle, Germany, as they secure the area following an attack outside a synagogue
Police guard a crime scene near a Synagogue after a shooting in Halle, Germany, which targeted Yom Kippur worshippers
Max Privorotzki, who heads the Jewish community in Halle, said the gunmen had attempted to enter the synagogue, but that security measures were able to ‘withstand the attack’.
Footage taken near the kebab shop showed the man climbing out of his car before sheltering behind the door as he levels a long-barrelled gun and fires up the street.
Each shot ejects a plume of grey smoke as the gunman stops to reload before firing again. Spent casings can be seen dropping to the ground behind him.
Konrad Rösler, a 28-year-old railway worker interviewed on German TV, said that he was in the kebab shop in Halle when he saw a man with a helmet and military jacket launch the attack.
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.
Armed officers help a woman to cross the street, stepping around shell casings which have been circled with spray paint on the floor
Police block the area around the site of a shooting in Halle an der Saale, eastern Germany
Police say they have arrested one person in connection with the attack, but told resident to shelter in place while the manhunt continues (pictured, an ambulance at the scene
Police secure the area after a shooting in the eastern German city of Halle
The attack happened in Halle around midday, before shots were confirmed in nearby Landsberg, although police would not say if the two were linked. A heavy police presence was also reported in
The shooting triggered a huge influx of police to the city, among them units of the SEK, the elite of the German anti terrorism police.
Armed police were also deployed around synagogues in Leipzig – where an emergency alert was briefly issued before being revoked – and in Dresden, around 90 miles away.
Yom Kippur – Judaism’s holiest day
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day in Judaism which is marked with an intensive 25-hour period of fasting and prayer.
The holiday began Tuesday night and was due to end late Wednesday. The day typically involves five prayer sessions, with followers encouraged to repent for sins.
It is celebrated throughout the Jewish world, even by typically secular members of the faith.
Security was also increased at Jewish sites in Berlin, though no specific threat had been identified.
German anti-terror prosecutors said they were taking the lead in investigating the shooting, after Jewish leaders said their synagogue was targeted.
The investigation will be a murder probe.
A spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office said the step had been taken given ‘the particular importance of the case’ which he said involved ‘violent acts that affect the domestic security of the Federal Republic of Germany’.
Wednesday’s shootings came three months after the shocking assassination-style murder of local pro-migrant politician Walter Luebcke in the western city of Kassel, allegedly by a known neo-Nazi.
Luebcke’s killing has deeply shaken Germany, raising questions about whether it has failed to take seriously a rising threat from right-wing extremists.
Investigators have been probing the extent of suspect Stephan Ernst’s neo-Nazi ties and whether he had links to the far-right militant cell National Socialist Underground (NSU).
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer last month warned of the rising danger of the militant far right, calling it ‘as big a threat as radical Islamism’.
Seehofer said that police had uncovered 1,091 weapons including firearms and explosives during probes of crimes linked to the far right last year, far more than in 2017 when 676 were found.
At the same time, Germany has also been on high alert following several jihadist attacks in recent years claimed by the Islamic State group.
A police officer stands guard next to a van close to which his colleagues are gathered near the site of the shooting in Halle
A police robot near the scene of a shooting that has left two people dead in Halle, Germany
Police forces walk along the wall to a Jewish cemetery near the scene of a shooting that has left two people dead in Halle
Armed officers were also deployed outside a synagogue in Dresden, around 90 miles from Halle, as a precautionary measure following the attack amid fears of copy-cats
Police officers secure a synagogue in Dresden, Germany, following a shooting 90 miles away in Halle
Police armed with sub-machine guns and wearing armour and helmets secure the area around a memorial commemorating the 1938 Crystal Night pogroms, close to the synagogue in Dresden as a precautionary measure