Blast rocks Russian synagogue

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A bomb blast rocked a synagogue in Russia on Monday, drawing condemnation from the country's Jewish community, who linked the attack with the upcoming anniversary of Nazi Germany's invasion of Russia.

Regional police said that an explosive device went off just outside a synagogue in the central Russian city of Tver in the early hours of Monday, ripping a hole in its metal door and partially damaging its entrance hall.

Police said in a statement no one was injured in the blast, which damaged windows in 10 apartments nearby.

Police said the incident had been classified as an act of hooliganism linked to political, racial or religious hatred and that a criminal case had been opened.

A local leader of the Tver Jewish community, Vladimir Spivak, said one resident had suffered a light injury in the explosion and was taken to a hospital.

The blast caused an outcry among the country's Jewish communities.

"The explosion was a culmination of repeated attacks on practicing Jews," Russia's Federation of Jewish Communities said in a statement.

"Before this anti-Semitic slogans had appeared on the synagogue's walls, leaflets of anti-Semitic content had been circulated in the city and 140 gravestones at the Jewish part of the city cemetery had been defaced in 2009."

Jewish leaders also linked the blast with the anniversary of the start of World War II in Russia, where it is known as the Great Patriotic War, which the country marks on Tuesday.

"The blast is not only an offence for the Jewish population but a terrible reminder of World War II victims," the Moscow Jewish Religious Community said in a statement.

Religious and hate crimes are a relatively frequent occurrence in Russia.

© 2010 AFP

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