msnbc.com news services
updated 1/11/2006 11:51:16 AM ET 2006-01-11T16:51:16

A man armed with a knife stabbed and wounded several people in a synagogue in downtown Moscow Wednesday, police officials and witnesses said, while a Jewish leader called it an anti-Semitic attack.

At least six people had been hospitalized in the attack at the Chabad Bronnaya synagogue, which occurred around 5:30 p.m.

But a secretary at the synagogue who gave her first name as Tatyana told AP that the attacker wounded seven people, including several seriously.

She said she heard people screaming as the man stabbed them, but the man himself did not appear to say anything. The man was detained by police and was being questioned, said the officer who did not give his name.

The man is in his 20s and a Moscow resident, the Interfax news agency reported, adding that four people were seriously wounded.

"I saw a man run in. He had a big knife," said one woman who worked in the kitchen at the synagogue and gave only her first name Svetlana. "I saw people lying on the floor, cut by a knife."

'He was killing them'
She said she had heard the man attacked people in the kitchen where people eating then went upstairs and began to attack people in offices before he was stopped by the synagogue's rabbi and others.

People milled about outside the building after the attack, including a man wearing a yarmulke who had blood stains visible on his shirt.

Avraham Berkowitz, the executive director of Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union, said people inside the building told him that the man got past security and began stabbing people, attacking six in all, including an Israeli citizen.

Berkowitz said the son of the synagogue's rabbi, Yitzak Kogan, wrestled the attacker to the ground and held him until police arrived. He said the attack was clearly anti-Semitic.

Russian news reports said prosecutors were investigating the attack as a hate crime. A person identified as an eyewitness told Ekho Moskvyi radio that he overheard the man telling police after he was arrested that "he was killing them."

An Israeli government report has ranked Russia third after France and Britain for instances of anti-Semitic violence. More than a million Jews left for Israel in the last years of the Soviet Union, but around a million remain.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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