Armed Assailant Reportedly Attempts to Break in to and Set Fire to Moscow Synagogue

Man rushed to hospital in critical condition; perpetrator's motives reportedly remain unclear.

A police van stationed outside Moscow's Choral Synagogue, October 1, 2016.
A police van stationed outside Moscow's Choral Synagogue, October 1, 2016.Credit: Moshe Friedman

An armed assailant reportedly wounded one person at the Moscow Choral Synagogue on Saturday when he attempted to break into the building and set it on fire while a prayer service was allegedly taking place.

The assailant, who was detained by police and identified as Ivan Lebedev, was carrying a gun and a can of gasoline, Russia Today reported. His motives remain unclear.

There were conflicting reports regarding the victim's identity, with some saying it was a security guard who sustained bullet wounds to the head and chest, and was hospitalized in critical condition; while others said it was a civilian who was hurt.

The president of the European Conference of Rabbis and Moscow's chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, said following Saturday night's incident that "the evening prayer service took place as planned, and the Rosh Hashanah services will also take place as usual."

"I call on all of Moscow's Jews and all European Jews to attend synagogues during Rosh Hashanah and the holidays, and hereby declare to the entire world that we are not afraid," he added. "All the synagogues are properly secured, with the full cooperation of the local security forces in each country."

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