Eight Wounded in Attack on Moscow Synagogue (UPDATED)


MOSCOW, RUSSIA

January 11, 2006

INTERFAX Eight people have been wounded in an attack at a synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya street in downtown Moscow Wednesday evening, Moscow Prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev has said.

"Alexander Koptsev, a Muscovite born in 1985, stormed into the synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya street at 5:30 p.m. Moscow time and stabbed eight people," Zuyev told journalists at the scene.

The Moscow prosecutor's office has initiated a criminal case on charges of an attempt on the life of two or more people motivated by ethnic or religious hatred, ethnically or religiously motivated humiliation, and infliction of grave bodily harm on two or more people, Zuyev said.

The suspect is being questioned at the moment, he said.

"We will try to investigate this criminal case and bring the man to trial in the shortest time," Zuyev said.

An investigative team has been set up, and its members are examining the scene and searching the suspect's apartment at the moment, he said.

"He will be arraigned immediately and will be kept in custody," Zuyev said.

Zuyev said he is personally supervising the investigation, which is being conducted by the Moscow prosecutor's office.

The suspect's sanity will be checked during the investigation, he said.

"We will look into the circumstances and reasons behind this crime," Zuyev said in reply to a question about the suspect's affiliation with some organization.

A Moscow police source earlier told Interfax, citing updated reports, that the attacker stabbed eight people. All victims have been identified and hospitalized, he said.

The ninth victim reported earlier turned out to be the suspect himself, the source said.

"He has a slight cut wound to his neck, which he received during his detention," he said.

"The man was neutralized by Rabbi Yitzhak Kogan," another law enforcement source said.

The rabbi himself earlier told journalists that the attack left eight people wounded, four of them seriously.

"An evening prayer service was underway. I heard some shouts. I ran out and saw an unknown man trying to escape. Then I saw three or four slashed people down the corridor," the rabbi said.

The attacker did not say or shout anything, the rabbi said. Asked by the synagogue's visitors why he had come, he replied, "I've come here to kill," the rabbi said.

The rabbi also said tension around the synagogue has increased of late. "I cannot describe this as threats, but we have appealed to the Interior Ministry and the FSB [the Federal Security Service] to help us and beef up security," he said.

The Moscow city prosecutor's office reported earlier Wednesday that the suspect is Alexander Koptsev, born in 1985, an ethnic Russian residing in Moscow.

"The man has been detained and taken to Police Station No. 83," it said.

The prosecutor's office said a total of seven or eight people might have been wounded.

In particular, Michael Mishulovich, son-in-law of the synagogue's rabbi, was among those stabbed in the synagogue. Having suffered serious wounds, Mishulovich was hospitalized.

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