At least two people were shot to death Wednesday after gunfire erupted “at several locations” in eastern Germany in what federal authorities said is a possible “right-wing extremist crime.”
The country’s federal prosecutor took over the investigation of the shooting due its “extraordinary importance” because of the possibility of extremism.
A spokeswoman for the Halle municipal government said one shooting took place in front of a synagogue and its accompanying cemetery, while a second burst of gunfire targeted a kebab shop in the city, about 100 miles south of Berlin.
The violence occurred on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
Another city spokesman said an emergency situation was declared and all residents were advised to remain at home. He said emergency services and police were evacuating people from the synagogue. The spokesman declined to give an estimate of how many people were in the Jewish house of prayer at the time.
A police spokesperson in the city of Halle told NBC News that shots were fired “at several locations” in the city.
“Kebab restaurants and a synagogue are located in the area where the shots were fired,” a police spokesperson said.
The United Nations secretary-general’s spokesman condemned the attack as “another tragic demonstration of anti-Semitism — perpetrated on the holy day of Yom Kippur — which needs to be fought with the utmost determination.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters during a regular government press conference, “This is terrible news from Halle, and I hope very much that the police catch the perpetrator, or perpetrators, as quickly as possible.”
One person was arrested outside the nearby city of Leipzig and is now being questioned, a police spokesman told the German news channel NTV.
A Halle police spokesman told NBC News that officers “are presently searching for further suspects” in connection with the shooting.
Pictures and video, shared on social media out of Halle, showed a man in an olive-colored military-style jacket, helmet and long gun roaming local streets.
All first responders in Halle, including police officers, firefighters and ambulance services, were put on high alert to address the “extraordinary situation,” a city official said.
National rail operator Deutsche Bahn closed down the main train station in Halle shortly after the gunfire erupted.
Police are also investigating gunfire that erupted Wednesday about 10 miles east, in the city of Landsberg, officials said.
“Our forces have arrested one person. Still stay alert,” Halle police tweeted. “We have strong forces in and around #Halle and stabilize the situation until all information is secured.”
“Police operation underway in Halle. Several people were killed,” Halle police had tweeted earlier. “Attacker is on the run. Please remain in your homes or find a safe shelter.”
This is a breaking story, please check back here for updates.
Nick Bailey, Caroline Radnofsky and Reuters contributed.