Armed man takes hostages including rabbi at Texas synagogue

The gunman was reportedly demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence for attempting to murder U.S. military personnel.

By Associated Press and World Israel News Staff

Authorities say a man took hostages Saturday during services at a synagogue near Fort Worth, Texas.

The Colleyville Police Department tweeted Saturday afternoon that it was conducting SWAT operations at the address of Congregation Beth Israel.

At least four hostages were believed to be inside the synagogue, according to two law enforcement officials who were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. The synagogue’s rabbi was believed to be among the hostages, one of the officials said.

FBI Dallas spokeswoman Katie Chaumont said that crisis negotiators had been communicating with someone inside the synagogue. But she could not say whether the person was armed and she declined to describe what the person had said to authorities, citing operational sensitivity.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israelis were praying for the safety of the hostages.

Police were first called to the synagogue around 11 a.m. and people were evacuated from the surrounding neighborhood soon after that, Chaumont said.

There have been no reported injuries, Chaumont said. “It’s an evolving situation, and we have a lot of law enforcement personnel on scene.”

Law enforcement shut down access to the roads surrounding the synagogue Saturday afternoon.

The gunman was demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani convicted in 2010 of attempting to murder American military personnel. Aafia is serving an 86-year sentence at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, Texas.