JEWISH people on their way to a synagogue in Prestwich fled in terror as a man ran down the street swinging an axe at them.

The attacker stunned Jews who were at the junction of Bury Old Road and Singleton Road, making their way to the Holy Law Synagogue for an afternoon service to mark the Jewish New Year at Holy Law Synagogue.

The man got out of his van and threatened them with an axe. He shouted anti-Semitic obscenities at the crowd before driving off.

Witnesses noted the van’s registration number and reported it to police.

The attacker then drove off in Bury Old Road towards Bury and on to Bury New Road at Besses.

Police gave chase and managed to pulled over the van by Whitefield Police Station, where officers arrested the man.

The incident took place at 1.30pm on Monday, October 3, and a police spokesman said: “A 45-year-old man was arrested later that day on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and possession of an offensive weapon.

“He was bailed until October 31.”

The service was being held to mark the Jewish New Year, also known as Rosh Hashanah in Hebrew.

Prestwich police officers step up patrol around this time of year, known as the “High Holy Days”, to reassure the Jewish community against anti-Semetic attacks.

On the day of the incident, for religious reasons, Jews are not permitted to use mobile phones — and so witnesses could not call police. However, they were able to run the short distance to a mobile police station parked opposite the synagogue as part of the operation.

Cllr David Silbiger, of the Sedgley ward, said: “The community are very appreciative of police’s efforts to have a mobile station opposite the synagogue, which allowed for this incident to be reported.

“I’m pleased the available resources were there and the community is very much thankful.”

The Community Service Trust, a charity that works with police to protect British Jews from anti-Semitism, has been working with police in recent weeks to prepare for the operation.

A CST spokesman said: “We are aware of this alarming incident and have been speaking to the police in response.

“We are pleased the alleged offender was arrested and officers took such swift action.

“It shows the value of their operations on the ‘High Holy Days’ and we are grateful to the police for their proactive approach in protecting the community.

“We hope this will be of reassurance to the community.”

Sgt Steve Wightman-Love, of Prestwich police, said: “This incident remains under investigation and officers in the case are continuing to make enquiries.

“However, I wish to remind everyone that we take all reports of hate crime extremely seriously.

“This particular incident was reported to GMP at one of our local drop-in mobile policing units, which are a useful way for people to conveniently report crime to us in the community.

“I would encourage any victims of, or witnesses to, hate crime to use their local policing unit to inform our officers of the incident so that we can work to achieve a positive outcome.

“Alternatively, you can report hate crimes by calling 101 or 999 in the case of an emergency.”