BERLIN — At least two people were fatally shot on Wednesday in the east German city of Halle, the police said, with local news outlets reporting that at least one gunman had opened fire at a synagogue.
The assailant fled the scene, and the authorities warned people to stay in their homes while they carried out a search. The police said that one suspect was arrested shortly after the area around the synagogue was cordoned off and other major arteries in the city were blocked.
“Several shots were fired,” the Halle police said in a statement posted to Twitter. “The suspected perpetrators fled in a vehicle.”
A witness to the shooting, which took place in broad daylight, told local broadcaster MDR that he had seen a gunman dressed in military gear and armed with several weapons firing at the synagogue. Other news outlets reported that a hand grenade was thrown into a Jewish cemetery nearby.
The police could not immediately be reached to confirm the reports, but they told MDR that more shots had been fired in Landsberg, a suburb of Halle.
Prayers at the synagogue for the Yom Kippur holiday began at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and had been scheduled to continue until 8:30 p.m. No one in the synagogue could be immediately reached.
Anti-Semitic crime and hate crimes targeting foreigners have both increased almost 20 percent in Germany over the past year, according to official figures published in May. The data included a wide range of offenses, including assault, insults, graffiti, hateful postings online and the use of Nazi symbols.
Earlier this year, the country’s top official for efforts against anti-Semitism warned that Jews should not wear their skullcaps everywhere in public.