Gunman opens fire in German cinema complex

Police stormed a movie theatre in western Germany and killed a gunman who police say had taken hostages inside.
Police officers outside the cinema complex where a gunman opened fire in Viernheim, Germany, yesterday. The man had barricaded himself in the cinema and was later shot dead, according to news reports. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

He was shot dead after police stormed the complex; at least 25 people were injured

BERLIN • A masked man with a gun and ammunition belt opened fire at a cinema complex in the small western German town of Viernheim, near Frankfurt yesterday, according to German media reports.

The gunman was shot dead after police stormed the complex, the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper reported, citing Interior Minister Peter Beuth of the state of Hesse. Earlier, Focus Online magazine reported that police had arrested the gunman.

The daily Bild said at least 25 people were injured, possibly by tear gas in the police operation. Witnesses said they heard shots but it was not immediately clear whether they were live rounds or blanks.

A police spokesman declined to comment in detail about the incident, speaking only of an "unclear threat situation".

The daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said the man had entered the cinema at around 3pm and barricaded himself inside as terrified cinemagoers fled.

He was shot dead about an hour later, the Associated Press reported, citing local sources.

The area was cordoned off and special police forces were dispatched to the scene, television images showed.

The cinema is part of a shopping mall with more than 100 businesses under one roof, reported CNN.

It had several movies listed to show throughout the afternoon, including Hollywood productions such as Angry Birds.

The shooting comes amid heightened security concerns following terror attacks in France and Belgium. Bombings claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in March left 32 people dead at the Brussels airport and at a metro station.

In November last year, militants killed 130 people in a spate of shootings and suicide bombings in Paris.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'Gunman opens fire in German cinema complex'. Print Edition | Subscribe