Local media says the shooting took place in front of a synagogue, and that a hand grenade was also thrown into a Jewish cemetery.

Police officers at the site of a shooting, in which two people were killed, in Halle, Germany October 9, 2019.
Police officers at the site of a shooting, in which two people were killed, in Halle, Germany October 9, 2019. (Reuters)

Two people were killed in a shooting in the eastern German city of Halle today and a suspect was arrested, police said, with broadcasters showing images of an alleged perpetrator dressed in combat garb including a helmet.

Mass-selling daily Bild said the shooting took place in front of a synagogue, and that a hand grenade was also thrown into a Jewish cemetery. An eyewitness claimed that someone had also fired shots into a kebab bistro in Halle.

The violence occurred on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism when Jews fast for 25 hours, seeking atonement.

An unnamed eyewitness told local media the assailant at the synagogue was dressed in combat gear, including a helmet, and had thrown several explosive devices into the cemetery.

Regional public broadcaster MDR broadcast images of a man in combat clothing firing shots along a street from behind a car. Broadcaster Welt also showed a still image of a man in combat gear with a gun.

"Our forces have detained one person," local police said on Twitter. "Please nonetheless remain vigilant." Earlier, police tweeted: "According to initial findings, two people were killed in Halle. There were several shots."

Gunshots were also heard in Landsberg, a Halle suburb, Focus Online reported.

"This is terrible news from Halle and I hope very much that the police catch the perpetrator, or perpetrators, as quickly as possible," government spokesman Steffen Seibert said, interrupting a regular government news conference.

National rail operator Deutsche Bahn said the main train station in Halle had been closed.

Police did not immediately confirm the media reports associating the gunfire and grenade attack with Jewish targets.

Shooting live on Twitch for 35 minutes

The attack was streamed live for 35 minutes on Twitch, and eventually seen by some 2,200 people, the online platform said.

"The account owner streamed this horrific act live on Twitch for 35 minutes, during which time it was viewed by approximately five people," the livestream gaming platform posted on Twitter.

"A recording of the stream, which was automatically generated based on the account's settings, was viewed by approximately 2,200 people in the 30 minutes before the video was flagged and removed from Twitch," the platform, which is owned by Amazon, said.

Anti-semitism with roots

Anti-Semitism is an especially sensitive issue in Germany, which during World War Two was responsible for the genocide of 6 million Jews in the Nazi Holocaust.

Occasional past attacks have ranged from the scrawling of Nazi swastikas on gravestones to fire bombings at synagogues and even several murders. 

In recent years, cases of assault or verbal abuse, in some cases directed against people wearing traditional Jewish skullcaps, have raised an outcry.

Source: Reuters