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An 18-year-old man with dual German-Iranian citizenship has shot nine people dead, injured 21 in Munich

23.7.2016 11:07
A shooting in Munich, Germany at the Olympia shopping center on 22 July 2016 resulted in 10 deaths, including the shooter's suicide, and 21 serious injuries. (Collage:  Romea.cz)
A shooting in Munich, Germany at the Olympia shopping center on 22 July 2016 resulted in 10 deaths, including the shooter's suicide, and 21 serious injuries. (Collage: Romea.cz)

A shooter in Munich, Germany murdered nine people and injured 21 yesterday before losing his own life. Police say the perpetrator was an 18-year-old dual citizen of Germany and Iran who had been living in Munich for at least two years and had no prior criminal record.

As of 8 AM Saturday morning detectives were not yet able to say whether the shooting was a terrorist attack or the deed of a mentally unstable individual. The Bavarian Government and the German Federal Security Council are convening today because of the incident.

Munich Police Director Hubertus Andrä announced that original reports of as many as three shooters were not subsequently confirmed. The only perpetrator was an 18-year-old male who began shooting in the vicinity of the Olympia shopping center in northwestern Munich.

Adolescents and young children were among the victims. Andrä said the perpetrator's motivation remains unknown.

"That question is connected with the motive and we are not yet able to say anything about that," Andrä told the press. He also said he did not see any parallels with the other case of extreme violence from the beginning of last week in Germany, when a 17-year-old immigrant attacked five people on a train to Würzburg using an ax and a knife.

According to the Bild daily, police officers searched the apartment where the shooter lived with his parents last night and the attacker's father was interrogated at Munich Police Headquarters. Neighbors described the attacker to Bild as a "quiet type" of person.

Shooting began at around 18:00

The shooting began just before 18:00 Central European Summer Time. Police closed off the area around the shopping center, located near the Olympic campus in the northwest part of the city, and called on residents to remain indoors and not go into the streets.

"The situation is unpredictable! Avoid public places," police told locals yesterday.

Video footage of the shootings was posted online. From footage taken across a busy intersection near the Olympia shopping center it seems the attacker
apparently had an automatic weapon.

When the shooter took aim, the people around him began to flee. Shots then rang out and the eyewitess who was filming everything with a mobile phone fled also.

German television station n-tv interviewed eyewitness Luan Zequiri, who was standing directly in front of the McDonald's restaurant where the shooting happened. He said the attacker shouted insults against foreigners.

Zequiri said he saw just one attacker wearing high boots and carrying a backpack. Other video footage taken by eyewitnesses in Munich shows the shooter on the roof of the parking lot of the Olympia shopping center.

A crisis team was assembled at the Office of the Chancellor in Berlin and today German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet with the Federal Security Council. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziére has cancelled his vacation in the United States.

Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer convened an extraordinary session of the state government today over the events in Munich. After the shooting the operation of Munich's public transport - buses, the entire metro, and trams - was brought to a halt.

Police then ordered the evacuation of the main train station and called on drivers heading toward Munich to leave the highways in order to facilitate the arrival of special police units. Munich Airport maintained normal operations and Czech carrier RegioJet, which collaborates with Deutsche Bahn, the German national rail service, on a  bus line between Munich and Prague, transferred its connections to Munich Airport once the center of Munich was closed to incoming traffic.

Even though German Police have not yet confirmed a terrorist motivation for the shooting, French President François Hollande has already referred to the incident as one of terrorism. "The terrorist attack that has impacted Munich and resulted in the killing of many people is a repugnant crime carried out with the aim of sparking fear in Germany and other countries," the daily Die Welt reported Hollande as saying, adding that he plans to speak with Merkel about the situation today.

As many as 2 300 police officers intervened in Munich last night and early this morning. In addition to Bavarian Police, special units were deployed from the states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, and also from neighboring Austria.

Andrä said the situation in Munich is safe now. After 01:00 this morning police withdrew their warnings about going into the street and permitted the resumption of nighttime mass transit connections.

The metro system and the interurban rail, which stopped running shortly after the attack, have been back in service since this morning. Many people were stranded in Munich due to the evacuation of the main train station and the interruption of rail service.

Bavarian State authorities offered those stranded the option of spending the night at the headquarters of the Bavarian Government and in the building of the State Parliament. Offers of places to spend the night also made the rounds of social media on Twitter with the hashtag #OffeneTür (open door), some from mosques in Munich and some from private individuals.

Deutsche Bahn also parked sleeper cars at train stations on the city outskirts for people to shelter in. All other states in Germany also tightened security measures in the aftermath of the attack.

Police in Düsseldorf, where the Rhineland festval is underway, armed themselves with submachine guns. In Stuttgart police patrols in the streets were beefed up.

In the neighboring Czech Republic, the Czech Police preventively increased the number of officers deployed in shopping centers. Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec informed Czech Television of the decision.

Chovanec said police are also beefing up their patrols at the borders. Austria also announced that members of its special police units were on alert.

Those Austrian states bordering on Germany also took extra security measures, but authorities did not communicate what they were exactly. US President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has promised Germany all the aid it needs to deal with the Munich shooting.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said he was shocked by the events and expressed his sympathy to the victims of the violence. "This barbaric attack in Munich once again confirms what a dangerous world we are living in. My sympathies go out to our Bavarian neighbors," Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD) tweeted in the aftermath of the attack.
  

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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EU, Germany, Hate, Hate violence, terrorism, Violence



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