Munich terror: gunman mows down 9 before killing himself

23 Jul 2016


A lone gunman went on a shooting rampage at a busy mall in Munich on Friday, killing nine people in cold blood before committing suicide. German police said today he likely acted alone.

Police say the gunman was a German-Iranian 18-year-old who was not previously known to police.

The third attack on civilians in Europe in barely a week saw panicked shoppers fleeing the Olympia (OEZ) mall as elite police launched a massive operation to track down what had initially been thought to be up to three assailants.

 "We found a man who killed himself. We assume that he was the only shooter," police said on Twitter.

Nine people were killed in the shooting that began early on Friday evening, with 21 injured according to the latest official toll.

The statement from authorities came after explosives experts from the Munich police examined a backpack found on a dead man thought to be the lone assailant in the rampage, German DPA news agency reported.

The man's body was found about one kilometre away from the mall where the shootings took place, DPA said.

 "We suspect terrorism," a police spokesman in the Bavarian capital said earlier, but there were no immediate indications of an Islamist link.

A video posted on social media appeared to show a man dressed in black walking away from a McDonald's restaurant while firing repeatedly on people as they fled screaming.

Germany has so far escaped the kind of large-scale jihadist attacks seen in neighbouring France and neither the motives nor the identity of the supposed gunman were known.

Munich's main train station was evacuated and metro and bus transport in the city were suspended for several hours while residents were ordered to stay in their homes, leaving the streets largely deserted.

 By early Saturday, transport services were running again, Munich police said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will convene her security council today to address the deadly rampage in the European economic powerhouse which took in more than one million migrants and refugees last year.

 "We are determined to do everything we can so that terror and inhuman violence stand no chance in Germany," her chief of staff Peter Altmaier said.

Shooting spree
The spree began before 1600 GMT at the McDonald's and continued on a nearby street before at least one attacker moved into the Olympia centre -- which lies not far from the scene of the 1972 Olympics massacre.

Shoppers rushed away from the mall, some carrying children in their arms, as the building was surrounded by armed police and emergency vehicles, while helicopters buzzed overhead.

Europe has been on alert for terrorism in the wake of a string of attacks in neighbouring France and Belgium claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group.

German President Joachim Gauck said he was "horrified" by the "murderous attack". Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere, who was on a flight to New York when the shooting began, will return to Germany.

US President Barack Obama and French counterpart Francois Hollande voiced staunch support for their close ally.

"Our hearts go out to those who may have been injured. It's still an active situation, and Germany's one of our closest allies, so we are going to pledge all the support that they may need in dealing with these circumstances," Obama said.

Austria said it has "significantly" tightened security measures in states sharing a border with Germany and put its elite Cobra police force on high alert.

The Munich mall is located near the stadium for the 1972 Olympics and the athletes' village which was the site of the hostage-taking and massacre of Israeli athletes by the Palestinian Black September group during the Games.

The shooting coincides with the fifth anniversary of the massacre of 77 people in Norway by rightwing fanatic Anders Behring Breivik.

It also comes just days after a teenage asylum seeker went on a rampage with an axe and a knife on a regional train on Monday near Wuerzburg, also in Bavaria, injuring five people.

The train rampage triggered calls by politicians in Bavaria to impose an upper limit on the number of refugees coming into Germany -- many of them via the southern state.

A record 1.1 million migrants and refugees were let in to Germany last year, with Syrians making up the largest group followed by Afghans.

 The mall shooting came just eight days after 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel used a truck to mow down 84 people, including children, in the French Riviera city of Nice.

It was the third major attack on French soil in the past 18 months.

In March, ISIS claimed suicide bombings at Brussels airport and a city metro station that left 32 people dead.

In May, a mentally unstable 27-year-old man carried out a knife attack on a regional train in Bavaria, killing one person and injuring three others.

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