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Attack outside synagogue in Germany's Halle kills at least two

Gunmen open fire on street and throw hand grenade into a Jewish cemetery on Yom Kippur
Police secure the area after a shooting in the eastern German city of Halle (Reuters)

At least two people were killed by gunmen outside a synagogue in the German city of Halle on Wednesday, and a suspect was arrested, the police said.

The attack happened on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year when Jews seek atonement and fast for 25 hours.

"Early indications show that two people were killed in Halle. Several shots were fired. The suspected perpetrators fled in a car," said police on Twitter, urging people in the area to stay indoors.

German daily Bild reported that the attack took place outside the Paulus neighbourhood’s synagogue and a hand grenade was thrown into a nearby Jewish cemetery.  

A spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office said that anti-terror prosecutors are taking over the investigation.

Steps had been taken given "the particular importance of the case" which he said involved "violent acts that affect the domestic security of the Federal Republic of Germany". 

An unnamed eyewitness told local media the attacker was dressed in combat gear including a helmet. Another eyewitness told n-tv television that a perpetrator had also fired shots into a kebab shop, according to Reuters.

Halle’s main train station has been closed, the rail network operator said.

The mayor of the town of Landsberg nearby, Anja Werner, said that the two suspects were on a motorway that leads to Munich.

She also said a second shooting incident was reported in Landsberg.