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'I heard him shout, let's shoot at the yeshivah'

JC on the scene as police swoop on Manchester attackers

    The yeshivah students were shaken and fearful as I arrived on Sunday morning at the scene of what appeared to be a horrific shooting at Shaarei Torah Yeshiva in Manchester's Broughton Park.

    The gunman turned out to have been firing blanks and no-one was injured but, in a city which regularly records the highest number of annual antisemitic attacks and where gun crime is rarely far from the headlines, no-one takes anything for granted.

    However, there was more drama to follow.

    While driving around Broughton Park later in the day, I came across a parked police car. I spoke to a bystander who said a man was inside a house with a gun.

    Not long afterwards, two teenagers dressed in tracksuit bottoms and hooded jerseys emerged from the house, accompanied by police. A Tactical Aid officer searched them, and put them inside separate police vehicles.

    They were identified as local youngsters, who were Jewish but not religious.

    Earlier, students congregated nervously outside the yeshivah, excited by the attention but shaken by what had occurred at around 2am the previous night.

    I spoke to 19-year-old student Azaryoh Gardner, who said: "I was about three metres from the gun.

    "At about 2am we heard a disturbance outside the building. Students went outside to see what it was. Two cars were driving around, going up and down, hooting their horns. There was a flash and a bang. We didn't know it if it was a gun. The cars sped off, and we found a bullet casing on the ground."

    Another student, 19-year-old Dov Orzel, was outside the yeshivah at 2am when he saw a young man walking with a handgun.

    "I heard him shout quite loud, 'let's shoot at the yeshivah'. I went inside to tell people there was a man with a gun outside. I wasn't taken seriously. It was a small handgun."

    Police had arrived within minutes, and later on Sunday a police Tactical Aid Unit arrived to scour the road outside the yeshivah for evidence.

    A replica firearm with blank ammunition was recovered by police. It is unclear what had led to the incident.

    Greater Manchester Police later confirmed that two youths were arrested in connection with the disturbance for discharge of a firearm and later released on bail pending further inquiries.

    Chief Superintendent Mulligan said: "I would like to reassure the local Jewish community that there is no indication that they were the target of this incident… This appears to be an isolated incident and does not appear to be related to terrorism, the on-going terrorist trial or organised crime activity. Furthermore we do not believe it is motivated by antisemitism."

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