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The original page address was https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/09/two-people-killed-in-shooting-in-german-city-of-halle

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Germany: mass shooting attempt that killed two was antisemitic attack, minister says
  • Authorities say indications suggest ‘rightwing extremist motive’
  • Reports say gunman was 27-year-old German citizen
  in Berlin

Wed 9 Oct 2019 19.56 BST  First published on Wed 9 Oct 2019 12.46 BST 

[Image: A police officer escorts a man as from the site of the shooting in Halle]  
 
  A police officer escorts a man as from the site of the shooting in Halle. Photograph: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
Two people died and two more were severely injured in the eastern German city of Halle on Wednesday after a gunman in a military-style outfit tried to force his way into a synagogue in an attempted mass shooting.

In a chilling echo of the Christchurch mosque shooting, the gunman recorded the attacks on a head-mounted camera and uploaded it online with an antisemitic and rightwing extremist rant. German media identified the killer as Stephan Balliet, a 27-year-old German citizen from the town of Eisleben in Saxony-Anhalt.

Authorities in the city in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, home to 230,000 people, said they were dealing with a “rampage situation” after several shots were fired in the Paulus quarter north of the city centre at about midday.

One woman was shot dead outside the synagogue near a Jewish cemetery and one man killed in a nearby kebab shop.

The German interior minister, Horst Seehofer, described it as an antisemitic attack.

“Based on current information, we have to assume that it was at least an antisemitic attack,” he said. “According to the federal prosecutors’ office, there are enough indications that it was possibly a rightwing extremist motive. They have taken over the investigations.”

Germany street map
Security at synagogues around Germany was boosted in the wake of the attack.

Between 70 and 80 people had gathered in the synagogue in the area to celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, when they heard the shots outside the building. Via a security camera, they could make out a man trying to enter the building by shooting at the locks.

“The attacker repeatedly shot at the door and also threw several Molotov cocktails, firecrackers and grenades to force his way in,” the head of the the Jewish community in Halle, Max Privorotzki, told Der Spiegel magazine.

[Image: A screengrab of mobile phone footage showing a man firing shots from behind a car in Halle.]  
 
  A screengrab of mobile phone footage showing a man firing shots from behind a car in Halle. Photograph: Reuters Tv/Reuters
“But the door stayed shut, God protected us. The whole thing lasted perhaps five to 10 minutes,” Privorotzki added. Worship continued after the attack, he said.

A resident interviewed by the news agency DPA said he had seen a man dressed as a police officer take aim and shoot a woman with an automatic rifle outside the synagogue, and then threw a hand grenade over a wall at the Jewish cemetery. The report could not be confirmed.

Reports in German media suggested the female victim was a passerby rather than a member of the Jewish community.

Shots were later fired at a kebab shop on nearby Ludwig-Wucherer-Strasse, killing one male customer inside. Witness Konrad Rösler, 28, told German media a man wearing a military outfit and helmet walked up to the Kiez Döner take-away restaurant and threw a stun grenade at the building that bounced off the door frame. The man had then fired a shot inside the kebab shop, where five or six people were present, the witness said.

One of the kebab shop’s employees told broadcaster NTV the attacker had been “calm, like a professional – he did it like I make kebabs”.

Two people were taken to hospital with bullet wounds, police confirmed.

Reports on the exact number of attackers varied throughout the day, but police confirmed one arrest.

Play Video  
1:21
  Halle: Eyewitness describes shooting in Germany - video
“Our forces have detained one person,” police tweeted at 12:44. “Please remain alert, however. We have deployed forces in and around Halle and are stabilising the situation until we have all the relevant information.”

A video, filmed on a mobile phone and broadcast by regional TV station MDR, showed a man in green military gear standing at the back of a parked car, firing a rifle.

The attacker broadcast about 35 minutes of footage leading up to and during the attack on Twitch.tv, a live-streaming video platform owned by Amazon that is primarily used for streaming video games, the company confirmed.

Speaking in English, the attacker announced himself as a Holocaust denier and blamed feminism for low birth rates in the west, which he said had led to mass immigration. He said “the Jew” was the root of these problems.

Three separate videos show the attacker becoming frustrated as he is unable to access the synagogue and his gun jams, suggesting he could have killed more people if his weapon had not malfunctioned.The Twitch video, reviewed by the Guardian, suggests that the attacker was on the street outside the synagogue for more than five minutes, during which time he shot and killed a passerby, without being approached by law enforcement.

“We worked with urgency to remove this content and will permanently suspend any accounts found to be posting or reposting content of this abhorrent act,” said Brielle Villablanca, a spokeswoman for Twitch. The company is monitoring the platform for efforts to re-upload the video, she added, and is working with other social media platforms to prevent the spread of the video.

Copies of the video appear to have been downloaded prior to Twitch taking action and are circulating on the web. Copies of the video of the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, were re-uploaded to Facebook about 1.5m times in the 24 hours after that attack.

A document which the killer appeared to have uploaded as a mission statement on Kohlchan, the German equivalent of 4chan – which was found by researchers for Kings College London’s International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence – lists an arsenal of homemade weapons he intended to use in the attack, including machine guns, a shotgun, a pistol and hand grenades.

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday night joined a vigil outside the New Synagogue in Berlin. Earlier in the day her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told a news conference: “It is terrible news from Halle and I hope very much that the police will manage to catch the perpetrator or perpetrators as quickly as possible so that no other person will be in danger.”

Reiner Haseloff, the state premier of Saxony-Anhalt, said he was shocked by what he called a “cowardly assault on peaceful coexistence in our country”.

Germany’s national football team is planning to hold a minute’s silence before Wednesday night’s international friendly match against Argentina.

Additional reporting by Julia Carrie Wong

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