At least 10 dead in Munich shooting, including gunman who police say killed himself
MUNICH (REUTERS) – A gunman opened fire in a busy mall in the German city of Munich on Friday (July 22) evening, killing at least ten people, including himself, and sending shoppers running for their lives in the third attack against civilians in Western Europe in eight days.
Authorities told the public to get off the streets as the city – Germany's third biggest – went into lockdown with transport halted and highways sealed off.
Injured people in the shooting included children and dead people included youths, Munich police chief confirmed.
Three of the injured people are believed to be in life-threatening condition.
A man found dead near the scene at a Munich shopping centre killed himself and was likely the sole shooter in the attack, a spokesman for the Munich police said on Saturday (July 23).
Munich police said Saturday that the shooter was an 18-year-old German-Iranian man whose motive was "completely unclear".
"The perpetrator was an 18-year-old German-Iranian from Munich," police chief Hubertus Andrae told reporters after the massacre that left 10 people dead including the gunman.
The shooter, who was previously not known to police, is suspected of using a pistol.
Earlier police had said they were looking for up to three suspects in the attack, citing eyewitness accounts.
Munich police chief later said the three men seen fleeing scene of shooting were found to be uninvolved.
Early Saturday, a Munich police spokesman said it was now believed likely that only one man was responsible for the shooting.
The shooting was believed to have first started in a fast food restaurant and moved to the shopping centre after.
The Bavarian capital was placed under a state of emergency as police hunted for him and special forces deployed in the city.
Alleged video of a shooter in #Munich, location confirmed by a friend working close by (she did not film the video)— Thomas Seymat (@tseymat)
#Germany Breaking| Unconfirmed video of people shouting abuse to shooter as he says "I'm a German"— dotemirates (@dotemirateseng)
#munchen munich Police searching shopping mall— Old Holborn ✘ (@Holbornlolz)
"We are telling the people of Munich there are shooters on the run who are dangerous," he said. "We are urging people to stay indoors."
Munich newspaper TZ said one of the shooters was dead. German news magazine Focus said a gunman had shot himself in the head.
At the height of the incident, people in the Olympia shopping centre either fled or sought to hide. "Many shots were fired, I can't say how many but it's been a lot," said a shop worker hiding in a store room inside the mall.
It was the third major act of violence against civilians in Western Europe in eight days. Previous attacks in France and Germany were claimed by the Islamic State militant group.
A police spokesman said there was no immediate indication that it was an Islamist attack but it was being treated as a terrorist incident.
Friday is also the fifth anniversary of the massacre by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway in which he killed 77 people. Breivik is a hero for far-right militants in Europe and America.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the motive for the attack was not yet clear. "The motives for this abhorrent act have not yet been completely clarified – we still have contradictory clues," Steinmeier said in a statement.
ISIS SUPPORTERS CELEBRATE
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but supporters of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) celebrated on social media. "The Islamic state is expanding in Europe," read one Tweet.
Two witnesses told n-tv television that they saw a man dressed as Santa Claus walking away from the scene of the shooting with a crowd of people. One said the man had blonde hair, was not carrying a weapon but had a suitcase.
A video posted online, whose authenticity could not be confirmed, showed a man dressed in black outside a McDonalds by the roadside, drawing a handgun and shooting towards members of the public.
Witnesses had seen shooting both inside the mall and on nearby streets, police said.
Several hours after the shooting, police said it was unclear if the shooters were still in Munich. As night closed in, the streets of the city were largely deserted.
Thousands of people had been crowding the streets and squares in Munich's city centre in the afternoon, clinking glasses, eating sausages, and listening to bands at a beer festival.
The festival was meant to last until Sunday but was evacuated shortly after the attack.
Elena Hakes, wearing a blue traditional dress, had been with a friend in the Odeonsplatz square.
"We heard what had happened and decided to leave, it just seemed not befitting anymore to continue partying.
"Most of the people were very calm and composed. There were a few people who came running towards us who were screaming and in panic. But mostly it was surprisingly calm."
Munich's main railway station was evacuated. BR television said police had sealed off many highways north of Munich and people were told to leave them.
The shopping centre is next to the Munich Olympic stadium, where the Palestinian militant group Black September took 11 Israeli athletes hostage and eventually killed them during the 1972 Olympic Games.
Friday's attack took place a week after a 17-year-old asylum-seeker assaulted passengers on a German train with an axe. Bavarian police shot dead the teenager after he wounded four people from Hong Kong on the train and injured a local resident while fleeing.
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told Bild newspaper's Friday edition before the mall attack that there was "no reason to panic but it's clear that Germany remains a possible target".
The incidents in Germany follow an attack in Nice, France, on July 14 in which a Tunisian drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84. ISIS claimed responsibility for that attack.
The Munich assault was also reminiscent of Islamist militant attacks in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in September 2013 and in Mumbai, India, in November 2008.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said on Twiiter:"Horrible killings in Munich. Taking place on the same day as we mourn & remember the appalling terror that hit Norway so hard five years ago."
US President Barack Obama pledged support for Germany. "We don't yet know exactly what's happening there, but obviously our hearts go out to those who may have been injured," Obama said.
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