German officials on Thursday said a possible Islamist terror attack on a synagogue in the western city of Hagen was averted after authorities were tipped off.
“We received a very specific and serious tipoff that an attack on the synagogue could take place during the Yom Kippur festival. A reference was made to an Islamist-motivated threat situation,” German regional interior minister Herbert Reul said at a press conference Thursday.
“In concrete terms: a specific time, place and perpetrator were named,” he said.
Reul said that a 16-year-old Syrian was among four people arrested in connection with the threat on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
Reuters reported that officers with machine guns were seen around the location for several hours on Wednesday evening.
In 2019, a gunman in the eastern German town of Halle killed two people and injured several others, in an antisemitic rampage on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Thursday that security forces were doing everything they could to ensure people’s safety.
“After the attack on the synagogue in Halle on the highest Jewish holiday Yom Kippur two years ago, a young person shouted to me: You can’t protect us! In Hagen, a synagogue was now once again seriously threatened, presumably with Islamist motives,” Seehofer said in a statement.
“This time, the security authorities were quicker. We are doing everything humanly possible to protect our people. Never again must Jews live in fear in our country. There is no place for anti-Semites in our society.”
Germans are due to vote in parliamentary elections on September 26, after which longtime German Chancellor Angela Merkel will step down.
Two of those hoping to take her place at the helm – Armin Laschet, of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union party, and Olaf Scholz, of the Social Democratic Party – condemned the reported threat to the synagogue in Hagen.
“The police [in North Rhine-Westphalia] may have prevented a cruel attack on Jewish life in Hagen,” tweeted Laschet, who is governor of North Rhine-Westphalia. “This threat situation shows that the fight against international terrorism continues to be one of the great challenges of our time.”
“It hurts that Jews in Hagen are exposed to such a threatening situation and cannot celebrate Yom Kippur together. It is our duty to do everything to protect them and to intervene immediately in case of danger,” Scholz tweeted.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the Halle attack took place in 2019.
CNN’s Claudia Otto contributed to this report.