Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan - A nail-packed explosive device blew up on the grounds of a synagogue in central Bishkek about an hour before the start of Rosh Hashanah services Thursday evening, according to local press reports. No one was hurt and physical damage was minimal as the bomb, lobbed over a fence into the synagogue’s courtyard on the first night of the Jewish New Year, landed in a small pool of water, news agency Regnum.ru reported.
Police and security services kept onlookers at bay after the incident and have opened an investigation.
Representatives of the Bishkek Police Department told RFE/RL that an unknown person threw an explosive device onto the synagogue’s grounds on September 9.
Nobody was reported hurt in the explosion, which caused minor damage to the synagogue.
Police say forensic experts are currently working on determining the substance used in the explosive device.
This wouldn’t have been the first attack against the synagogue this year. While moderately Muslim Kyrgyzstan has no history of anti-Semitism, a burst of Judeo-phobia erupted during the bloody uprising that toppled Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s regime last spring—more as a projection of internecine strife than inter-religious conflict. Among the protesters’ banners, a large one briefly displayed near the presidential White House read, “Dirty Jews and people like Maxim have no place in Kyrgyzstan.” This, apparently, was a reference to Eugene Gourevitch, a Jewish business partner of Bakiyev’s much-despised son Maxim, whose perceived corruption at the expense of the nation’s coffers (and its people) was a trigger for the uprising. During April’s rioting, the synagogue’s security cameras were broken and Molotov cocktails were thrown onto its roof and into the courtyard, Interfax reported at the time.
Since the Soviet collapse, Kyrgyzstan’s Jewish population has dwindled to a tiny fraction of its one-time size. An estimate cited by Interfax places the number of Jews currently living in the country, with a total population of some 5.4 million, at “over 1300.”