you" stabbed up to nine men at a Moscow synagogue late Wednesday, January 11, in the latest act of anti-Semitism in the region, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) and other media reported.
The knife attack took place just before Wednesday’s evening service when the Bolshaya Bronnaya Synagogue in downtown Moscow was full of worshippers, JTA said.
Russian media said a young man rushed into the building and stabbed nine people including the rabbi. The man, identified by police as Alexander Koptsev, 20, "struck out at random before being pushed to the ground by Yitzhak Kogan, the shul’s rabbi, who had been stabbed, and his son," JTA said.
Koptsev was reportedly in police custody. "One man was in critical condition and at least four others are in serious condition," JTA quoted medical officials as saying. Among those injured were Russians, several Israelis, an American and a resident of Tajikistan.
Witnesses said the attacker, who looked like a skinhead, shouted, "I came to kill you" as he went on the rampage. JTA said the floor of the synagogue was covered with blood stains.
The attacker, wearing all black, his blond hair cropped close to his scalp, overpowered a guard at a metal detector near the synagogue’s entrance around 5:30pm local time, said Avraham Verkowitz, director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the former Soviet countries, a Lubavitch group.
He then moved toward a rabbinical school on the second floor and attacked people trying to flee down a hallway, Verkowitz said in a telephone interview from the scene. "The pools of blood are drying in front of me now," he told The New York Times newspaper.
The synagogue is one of the oldest in Moscow and serves as the base of the Agudas Chasidei Chabad in Russia, a Lubavitch organization. Berel Lazar, one of Russia’s chief rabbis, demanded that Russian authorities react promptly to the incident, JTA reported.
Wednesday’s attack was reportedly the first large-scale hate crime against Jews in recent years in Russia, however beatings and stabbings of immigrants and foreign students have been on the rise. Jewish gravestones were desecrated in St. Petersburg in October, news reports said.