Israeli rabbi shot in Switzerland

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An Israeli rabbi has been shot dead on a street in Switzerland's financial capital, the police said yesterday.

The police, who declined to identify the victim beyond saying that he was the head of a Talmud college in Israel, said their investigation had yet to determine a motive for the slaying, which happened shortly after 10pm on Thursday.

The Hebrew Congregation of Zurich issued a statement saying that it was "shaken by the new attack on a recognisably Jewish person. The congregation is disturbed that there is a climate in our city in which such attacks can occur".

The victim, dressed in black, "was clearly recognisable as an Orthodox Jew", said Werner Benz, the police spokesman. He said a gunman fired several shots at the 70-year-old victim and fled. The police are looking for a young man with long dark hair pulled into a ponytail.

Passers-by and local residents called the police. But rescue workers failed to keep him alive, and he died about 30 minutes after the attack. The victim was staying with friends in the area where he was attacked. Mr Benz said the victim, on a private visit, was found with money and other valuables on him.

The attack was the third on Orthodox Jews in Zurich in recent years. Mentally disturbed people perpetrated the first two, the police said. In August 1999, an Israeli engineer, 49, was wounded by a man who stabbed him from behind, and in September 1995 an unemployed Turk fatally stabbed a man walking from a synagogue to his home.

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