• World - Europe
  • Updated: 2 months ago

Security Threat: German Police Investigates 'Threat' To Synagogue

Police on Thursday were investigating an unspecified possible threat to a synagogue in the western German town of Hagen, hours after security was beefed up ahead of a planned prayer service on a major Jewish holiday.

Security was tightened considerably starting Wednesday afternoon ahead of a planned service celebrating Yom Kippur, the highest Jewish holiday, police said.

But for security reasons, the local police could not provide details of the potential threat.

Security was scaled down again after midnight and the operation was stood down early Thursday after a search of the synagogue complex and a doctor’s office with sniffer dogs came up clean and the all-clear was given.

But several armed officers remained at the scene even after the all-clear, police said.

The security sweep did not yield any evidence of actual risk, police said.

There was also no evidence that other Jewish communities in North Rhine-Westphalia state could be endangered.

The Police could not respond to speculation, that the danger it had been warned of was a potential bomb threat.

Investigations are ongoing, a police spokesman said.

“We are now in particularly close contact with the Jewish community. The people are concerned,’’ the police spokesman added.

The Westfalenpost newspaper reported that at the height of the police operation on Wednesday evening, hundreds of officers were deployed in Hagen.

The area surrounding the synagogue in the city center was widely cordoned off.

Police patrolled in front of the synagogue and in the vicinity of the place of worship.

Photos circulated in the media showed helmeted police officers with machine guns.

A police spokesman told reporters on request that there were emergency forces on-site, but that more detailed information could not be given for tactical reasons.

The Yom Kippur prayer service was canceled as a precaution.

The congregation was informed ahead of the service and only a few people turned up outside the synagogue and they were sent home again, a police spokesman said.

Hagen’s Mayor Erik Schulz assured the Jewish community of his solidarity in the face of the threat.

“As little as we know about the exact situation our thoughts are with the Jewish community in Hagen,’’ he told the Westfalenpost.

Hagen has a small Jewish community of around 250 people.

Two years ago on Yom Kippur, an armed right-wing extremist tried to forcefully break into a synagogue in Halle, in Saxony-Anhalt.

When the door held out, he shot two people nearby and injured two others while trying to escape.

The 28-year-old man who confessed to carrying out the Halle attack was convicted last year and given a life sentence by a German court.

During the trial, the accused expressed anti-Semitic and racist views and outlined an anti-feminist conspiracy theory. \

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