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Suspect Posted Racist Screed Before Launching Deadly Attack In Germany

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Germany has described yesterday's shooting outside a synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle that left two dead as an anti-Semitic attack.

Here's NPR's Rob Schmitz.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOT)

ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Video taken from a bystander shows a man dressed in navy blue fatigues shooting a modified shotgun from behind a Volkswagen.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOT)

SCHMITZ: This was not the only video of the attack. The shooter, identified by authorities as a 27-year-old German citizen, streamed video of himself with a head-mounted camera, a chilling echo of the mosque shooting earlier this year in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. He also posted a racist screed before launching the attack.

There were nearly 80 worshippers inside observing Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. Witnesses inside said the shooter tried to blast through the door but that it held. Unable to shoot people inside, the man instead killed a woman outside the synagogue and a man at a nearby kebab shop. German police later arrested the suspect on a highway outside of town.

Germany has watched with alarm as anti-Semitic crimes have risen by 20% last year alone, with 9 out of 10 cases blamed on far-right groups. This attack comes three months after a known neo-Nazi assassinated a politician who stood up for the rights of migrants. Germany's interior minister says the rising danger of the country's far right is as big a threat as radical Islam.

Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Berlin.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The audio and transcript on this page have been updated to remove the comments of a person who was at the scene. There was miscommunication about how that person should be identified.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rob Schmitz is NPR's international correspondent based in Berlin, where he covers the human stories of a vast region reckoning with its past while it tries to guide the world toward a brighter future. From his base in the heart of Europe, Schmitz has covered Germany's levelheaded management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of right-wing nationalist politics in Poland and creeping Chinese government influence inside the Czech Republic.