Saturday, 23 July 2016

At least 10 dead in Munich shooting rampage, 1 may be attacker

Police declared an "acute terrorist situation" Friday in Munich and shut down traffic and rail service in the southern German city after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at a shopping mall, killing at least nine people.

Police said a tenth body was found at the scene of the attack. The body was that of the shooter and he appeared to have acted alone, officials told the Associated Press and Reuters.

Munich police chief Hubertus Andraes says the suspect in the Munich shooting is an 18-year-old German-Iranian from Munich.

Andraes said at a news conference that the attacker's motive was still "fully unclear."

Witnesses had reported seeing three men with firearms near the Olympia Einkaufszentrum mall, but police said on Twitter that "as part of our manhunt we found a person who had killed himself — the person is likely to have been the attacker who, according to the current state of the investigation, acted alone."

Major roads in the Bavarian city were largely empty as special police teams swarmed the area and helicopters carrying snipers swept over rooftops. Munich police declared an "akute terrorlage" or "acute terrorist situation," triggering the shutdown of major roads, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.

"We are categorizing this as a terror attack only in our response of freeing up the largest possible force to handle the situation," Police spokesman Marcus da Gloria Martins told reporters. He said several were wounded, but he did not have an exact count.

In response to questions from reporters during a news conference, police said they had no information to link the attack to a radical Islamist group.

Horst Seehofer, prime minister of the state of Bavaria, and Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann scheduled a crisis meeting at the State Chancellery in Munich.

Details of the shooting were unclear, but witnesses indicated it began at a McDonald's in the Olympia Einkaufszentrum, or shopping center, in the northern Moosach district.

Vasiliki Spanouli, 30, who works as a cleaner, said at least one gunman began firing on people in the mall without warning.

"We were at the bus station opposite McDonald's outside the Olympia shopping mall and suddenly a man comes out with a gun and starts shooting at everyone," Spanouli said. "I saw people getting shot. I believe it's going to be many more dead than what is reported. People were falling on the ground like chicken."

Munich police said on Facebook that witnesses reported seeing "three different gunmen" but it was not clear whether they were referring to three separate shooters or the same shooter at three different locations.

An employee of a drugstore told Süddeutsche Zeitung that she "heard shots and saw injured." Police asked workers to remain in place.

Dozens of police, special forces teams and ambulances poured into the area and pushed pedestrians off the streets away from the mall.

Police in Bavaria have been on high alert following the stabbing of five people Monday by a 17-year-old Afghan wielding an ax and a knife. The incident occurred on a regional train near the Bavarian city of Wuerzburg. The attacker was shot and killed by police.

Fighting on the deck of the parking lot— Iqfish (@IqfishLP) July 22, 2016

German photographer Frederic Todenhofer, who lives near the shopping center, said the streets of Munich were largely abandoned as people were crowding into stores and even apartment buildings to get off the streets as quickly as possible. “I just went out for a walk with my dog and I didn’t see anyone,” he said.

On social media, Germans used the hashtag #offenetür (Open Door) to offer shelter to people stuck in public places.

Contributing: Angela Waters in Berlin; Nicolia Apostolou in Athens

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