A group of 21 people with covered faces threw Molotov cocktails Saturday at a synagogue in Gothenburg, the second-largest city in Sweden, local media reported. No one was hurt in the incident, but a small fire broke out in the synagogue's parking lot. "I saw a ball of fire," one eye witness recounted. Three people were arrested in conjunction with alleged involvement.
Gothenburg police spokesman Peter Nordengard said Sunday it is being investigated as an attempted arson. No injuries were reported.
Officials have increased security around the synagogue and at a Jewish center in capital of Stockholm.
Emergency services received the call at around 10 pm Saturday reporting burning objects being thrown at a synagogue in the city's center. "We arrived on the scene and put the fire out. A small fire broke out between cars parked in the synagogue's parking lot. We also found some combustible fluids around," said the city's fire station chief, adding they feared the flames would reach the Jewish center itself if they were not put out in time.
"The only thing we can say at the moment is that several incendiary objects were thrown at the synagogue. They objects were bottles filled with kerosene," said one of the cops on the scene.
According to a local paper, a group of Jewish youth movement members held an activity in the synagogue's complex at the time of the attack. The mother of one of the girls participating in the activity said, "She texted me, 'Mom, I'm scared' and told me 20 men with covered faces threw burning objects at the complex."
The chairman of Gothenburg's Jewish community, who witnessed the event, recounted: "Dozens of men with masks began throwing burning objects at our courtyard."
Dvir Maoz, an emissary of the world Bnei Akiva movement to Gothenburg, said, "I popped in to say hello at a party (in the synagogue complex) and sat with one of the guards. As we were talking, I saw a ball of fire out of the corner of my eye. I jumped right into the guardroom and told him a Molotov cocktail was thrown. The children were really stressed out because it was the first time they experienced a terrorist attack so close by."
"Parents came around and took the children home. Some of them were really stressed, and one told me he felt unsafe. Another told me because he had a very recognizably Jewish name the Arabs in his school routinely swore at him, bullied him and spat on him. I still can't say we're feeling an increase in anti-Semitism in our daily lives," Maoz added.
Witness Allan Stutzinsky told the TT news agency he saw a dozen masked youths who threw objects into the garden surrounding the synagogue.
Saturday's attack came on the heels of a march Friday in which hundreds demonstrated in Malmö against American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. According to local media outlet, the protesters cried out: "We've declared an intifada in Malmö. We want our freedom back, and we will shoot Jews."
Last week, after President Donald Trump announced US recognition of Jerusalem as capital, a Muslim draped in a Palestinian flag arrived at the Israeli-owned Carmel restaurant in the Netherlands' capital of Amsterdam and broke its display window.
The perpetrator drew nearer to the restaurant while chanting "Allahu akbar" and swung a pole seconds later, which shattered the restaurant's front window, with a pair of local cops standing nearby without intervening.
The restaurant's owner, Sami Baron, told Ynet: "He was lucky I wasn't there at the time, and the flag had already been hung again."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.