KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — An armed explosive device was found in the ventilator of a Ukrainian synagogue.
One of the leaders of Lutzk Progressive Jewish Congregation found the homemade bomb in the synagogue’s basement Monday morning.
“I found a bottle of six liters capacity filled with white powder which was connected through wires with clockwork and a battery,” Sergey Shvardovsky, executive director of the synagogue, told JTA. “When I mentioned that the clockwork was engaged, I evacuated the staff and rang up the police right away.”
Shvardovsky told JTA that law enforcement agencies arrived without delay and blocked off nearby streets for about two hours. The explosive was successfully neutralized.
Roman Krohmal, head of the local police, told JTA that a group of experts and criminalists are examining the contents of the bottle.
Law enforcement agencies are investigating the case but no leads have been reported.
According to local Jewish leaders, the local Jewish community “is outraged and alarmed” and people are afraid to visit synagogue.
“Anti-Semitic manifestations such as graffiti, slogans on the walls and hanging Magen Davids have been occurring in Lutzk almost every three months for the past year, but this is first time we have found an explosive device in the synagogue building,” Shvardovsky said. “Anti-Semitism is not on the rise in the town, but meanwhile we demand a serious investigation.”
“We are waiting for the results of the examination to determine if it was an explosive device or some kind of sham,” said Gennady Fraerman, a leader of the Rovno Jewish community and Hesed center, which also has a branch in Lutzk. “There were no such kind of incidents, anti-Semitic manifestations or any threats in the region recently.”
About 300 Jews are affiliated with the Reform synagogue in Lutzk, according to Shvardovsky, in a city of about 205,000 in northwest Ukraine.