MUNICH • First came the crack of gunfire, then the panicked screams and the wail of sirens as an armed attacker launched a killing spree in the German city of Munich.
Residents were going about their shopping at the busy Olympia mall, some eating at a McDonald's restaurant, when the horror began on Friday.
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the shooter had likely hacked a Facebook account and used it to lure victims to the fast-food outlet, where he began his rampage. Using the hacked account, he invited the victims "to go to the branch, offering them special reductions", said Mr de Maiziere.
Panicked diners and shoppers fled as armed anti-terror police flooded the streets in search of what was initially thought to be a group of three assailants.
An employee inside the mall, who would give only her first name, Sabiha, said she saw a gunman open fire outside her clothing store.
The assailant - described as about 1.85m tall, with black hair, and wearing a black shirt and "some kind of vest" - moved through the corridors before leaving the building, she told The Washington Post.
FLEEING FROM TERROR
I looked towards him, he fired on two people and I fled the building by climbing a wall. And then I saw bodies and injured people.
RUSHING FOR EXIT
We entered McDonald's... then there was panic, and people ran out... Children were crying, people rushed to the exit in panic.
HIDING FROM SHOTS
I was lucky because he shot towards the other directions, not mine.
SABIHA, an employee hiding inside a storage room in the mall.
FEELING OF DANGER
It has reached us. People in Munich have long had a queasy feeling... Since Friday, it is clear there can be no security anywhere.
MR MICHAEL SCHILLING, Abendzeitung newspaper editor-in-chief.
Ms Sabiha said she saw at least two people killed and one injured. "I was lucky because he shot towards the other directions, not mine," she said, speaking from a hiding spot inside a storage room in the store.
A video posted on social media appeared to show a man walking away from a McDonald's while firing repeatedly on a group of people, who screamed as they fled.
"We entered McDonald's to eat... then there was panic, and people ran out," one woman told Bavarian public television.
She said she heard three gunshots, "children were crying, people rushed to the exit in panic".
A man who said he worked at one of the shops in the mall described how he came face to face with the shooter. "I looked towards him, he fired on two people and I fled the building by climbing a wall. And then I saw bodies and injured people," he said.
Thousands of people had been crowding the streets and squares in Munich's city centre for a beer festival.
"It has reached us. People in Munich have long had a queasy feeling. Fears grew with every attack in Paris, Istanbul or Brussels," said the Abendzeitung newspaper's editor-in-chief Michael Schilling. "There were particular concerns about the Oktoberfest. But since Friday, it is clear that there can be no security anywhere, not even in the safest German city."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, REUTERS