Armed man who opened fire in cinema complex in Germany shot dead by police: Reports

German police officers running at the scene of the shooting, in Viernheim, near Frankfurt, on June 23, 2016.
German police officers running at the scene of the shooting, in Viernheim, near Frankfurt, on June 23, 2016.PHOTO: TWITTER/@JENKERS_EN
German police officers walking past the Kinopolis cinema complex after a masked man opened fire, in the small western town of Viernheim, near Frankfurt, on June 23, 2016.
German police officers walking past the Kinopolis cinema complex after a masked man opened fire, in the small western town of Viernheim, near Frankfurt, on June 23, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
German special forces police deploying near the Kinopolis cinema complex after a masked man started shooting, in Viernheim, near Frankfurt, on June 23, 2016.
German special forces police deploying near the Kinopolis cinema complex after a masked man started shooting, in Viernheim, near Frankfurt, on June 23, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

FRANKFURT (AFP, REUTERS) - A masked and armed man barricaded himself in a German multiplex cinema with dozens of people inside Thursday (June 23) before being killed by police, officials said.

No hostages were injured in the complex in the western town of Viernheim, 75km south of Frankfurt, Hesse state interior minister Peter Beuth said.

The attacker, who carried a rifle or "long gun", acted alone and appeared to have been a "disturbed man", Beuth told the regional parliament.  

"The assailant moved through the cinema complex, according to the information we have now, and appeared confused," he said.

"There were hostages inside and there was a struggle (with police) until in the end he was dead."

Beuth added: "We have no information that anyone (among the cinema-goers) was injured."

Police had not identified the man or established his motive, spokesman Bernd Hochstaedter said, adding that nothing immediately pointed to him having a militant background

A police spokesman in the nearby city of Darmstadt confirmed that "all the hostages were unhurt and led out of the building".

"There was an acute threat situation," Viernheim police said in a statement. 

Later accounts said that several people had been hurt by tear gas during the police raid but this was also denied.  

Authorities said they had no information on the man’s identity or motive. Media reports said they saw the gunman enter the building with "an ammunition belt" draped over his shoulder.  

"I saw that something was happening. I called the police and told them to come immediately," the cinema manager told Bild daily without giving her name.

Cinema employee Guri Blakaj told Reuters the gunman, who appeared to be aged between 18 and 25 and was about 1.7 metres tall, entered the cinema and told workers to get into an office.  

He then went into a cinema theatre. Blakaj, who said there were about six workers and 30 cinemagoers in the building, then heard shots fired. 

"We received a call at 2.45 pm (10.45pm Singapore time) saying that a man had stormed" the cinema, Beuth said. "Four gunshots were reported." At 6.15 pm, police began withdrawing from the scene, an AFP photographer saw.  

Security sources quoted by DPA news agency said there was "no link to terrorism", after deadly attacks in cities including Paris, Brussels and Istanbul have left European authorities on edge.  

The Darmstadt police spokesman said they were investigating what type of weapon the assailant used, adding that it was possible it fired blanks.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Germany where gun ownership is prevalent but firearm sales and storage are subject to strict regulation.

In the worse case in recent years, 17-year-old Tim Kretschmer went on a rampage with his father’s gun at his former school in 2009, killing 15 people before turning the weapon on himself.

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