Gun­man kills 9, wounds 16 in Mu­nich mall at­tack

Res­i­dents flee for cover as pan­icked city goes on lock­down dur­ing po­lice search for Ger­man-Ira­nian teen with no known ter­ror­ist ties

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - GE­ORGE JAHN, FRANK JOR­DANS AND DAVID RIS­ING

An 18-year-old Ger­man-Ira­nian man opened fire in a crowded Mu­nich shop­ping mall and a nearby McDon­ald’s Fri­day night, killing nine peo­ple and wound­ing 16 oth­ers be­fore killing him­self, the chief of po­lice in the Bavar­ian cap­i­tal said Satur­day.

Po­lice gave a “cau­tious all clear” early Satur­day morn­ing, more than seven hours af­ter the at­tack be­gan and brought much of the city to a stand­still as all pub­lic tran­sit sys­tems were shut down amid a mas­sive man­hunt. They said a body found near the scene was that of the shooter and he ap­peared to have acted alone.

Mu­nich po­lice chief Hu­ber­tus An­draes told a news con­fer­ence the sus­pect was a dual cit­i­zen from Mu­nich and his mo­tive was still “fully un­clear.” An­draes said the sus­pect’s body was found about 2 ½ hours af­ter the at­tack and was de­ter­mined to be the shooter based on wit­ness state­ments and closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion footage of the at­tack.

The shooter was not pre­vi­ously known to po­lice and there was no ev­i­dence of any links to ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions, An­draes said.

Wit­nesses had re­ported see­ing three men with firearms near the Olympia Einkauf­szen­trum mall, but An­draes said two other peo­ple who fled the area quickly were in­ves­ti­gated, but had “noth­ing to do with the in­ci­dent.”

The po­lice chief said the nine fa­tal­i­ties in­cluded young peo­ple, and chil­dren were among the 16 wounded, three of whom were in crit­i­cal con­di­tion.

Af­ter gun­fire broke out at the mall, one of Mu­nich’s largest, the city sent a smart­phone alert declar­ing an “emer­gency sit­u­a­tion” and telling peo­ple to stay in­doors, while all rail, sub­way and street car ser­vice was halted in the city.

It was the third ma­jor act of vi­o­lence against civil­ians in West­ern Europe in eight days. The pre­vi­ous at­tacks, in the French re­sort city of Nice and on a train in Bavaria near the city of Wuerzburg, were claimed by the Is­lamic State group.

While po­lice ini­tially called the mall shoot­ing an act of ter­ror­ism, they said they had “no in­di­ca­tion” it in­volved Is­lamic ex­trem­ism and at least one wit­ness said he heard a shooter shout an anti-for­eigner slur.

“The ques­tion of ter­ror­ism or a ram­page is tied to mo­tive, and we don’t know the mo­tive,” An­draes said. “We can’t ques­tion the sus­pect so this is all a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult.”

The at­tack started shortly be­fore 6 p.m. at a McDon­ald’s across the street from the mall, which was filled with peo­ple do­ing their week­end shop­ping. As dozens of shots rang out, ter­ri­fied shop­pers ran from the scene, some car­ry­ing ba­bies and push­ing strollers.

Video ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press from Ger­man news agency Non­stopNews showed two bod­ies with sheets draped over them not far from the fast food restau­rant. An­other video posted on­line showed a gun­man emerg­ing from the door of the McDon­ald’s, rais­ing what ap­peared to be a pis­tol with both hands and aim­ing at peo­ple on the side­walk, fir­ing as they fled in ter­ror.

Wit­ness Luan Ze­quiri said he was in the mall when the shoot­ing be­gan.

He told Ger­man broad­caster n-tv that the at­tacker yelled an anti-for­eigner in­sult and “there was a re­ally loud scream.”

He said he saw only one at­tacker, who was wear­ing jack boots and a back­pack.

“I looked in his di­rec­tion and he shot two peo­ple on the stairs,” Ze­quiri said.

He said he hid in a shop, then ran out­side when the coast was clear and saw bod­ies of the dead and wounded on the ground.

Ger­many’s In­te­rior Min­istry said Mu­nich po­lice had set up a hot­line for con­cerned ci­ti­zens. Res­i­dents of Mu­nich opened their doors to peo­ple seek­ing shel­ter us­ing the Twit­ter hash­tag #opendoor.

Ger­many’s in­te­rior min­is­ter cut short his hol­i­day in the United States to go back to Ber­lin late Fri­day to meet with se­cu­rity of­fi­cials.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel was be­ing reg­u­larly briefed on the at­tack, said her chief of staff, Peter Alt­maier.

“All that we know and can say right now is that it was a cruel and in­hu­mane at­tack,” he said on Ger­man pub­lic chan­nel ARD. “We can’t rule out that there are ter­ror­ist links. We can’t con­firm them, but we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing along those lines, too.”

Alt­maier noted that Fri­day was the fifth an­niver­sary of the mas­sacre in Oslo, Nor­way, by a far-right ex­trem­ist who killed 77 peo­ple, 69 of them at a youth sum­mer camp.

“You can only have ab­so­lute se­cu­rity in an ab­so­lute surveil­lance state, and no­body wants that, it would be the op­po­site of our free west­ern Euro­pean way of life,” he said. “But, and this be­came clear again to­day, we can’t talk down this dan­ger. It’s a dan­ger that many coun­tries are ex­posed, espe­cially in the West, and that’s why it’s im­por­tant to give our se­cu­rity agen­cies the in­stru­ments they need.”

Po­lice re­sponded in large num­bers to the mall in the north­ern part of Mu­nich, near the city’s Olympic Sta­dium in the Moosach dis­trict of the Bavar­ian cap­i­tal. In all there were 2,300 of­fi­cers in­volved, in­clud­ing the elite GSG9, SWAT teams from other Ger­man states and from neigh­bour­ing Aus­tria.

It was also not far from where Pales­tinian at­tack­ers opened fire in the Olympic Vil­lage in 1972, killing 11 Is­raeli ath­letes. Five guer­ril­las and a po­lice of­fi­cer were also killed. The GSG9 anti-ter­ror­ism unit was cre­ated af­ter that at­tack, though the city saw a worse one in 1980, when 13 peo­ple were killed and more than 200 in­jured at the city’s an­nual Ok­to­ber­fest in a bomb­ing blamed on a stu­dent with ties to neo-Nazis.

It was the sec­ond at­tack in Ger­many in less than a week. Mon­day, a 17-year-old Afghan wounded four peo­ple in an axe-and-knife at­tack on a train near the Bavar­ian city of Wuerzburg, and an­other woman out­side as he fled. All sur­vived. The at­tacker was shot and killed.

The Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the train at­tack, but author­i­ties have said the teen likely acted alone.

Gun at­tacks in Ger­many are un­com­mon. Firearm own­er­ship is wide­spread, but they are strictly reg­u­lated, with pur­chasers first hav­ing to take train­ing cour­ses in or­der to be granted a per­mit to own one. Many firearms are banned.

As many a 2,300 po­lice took part in the search for the ac­tive gun­man Fri­day night.

LUKAS SCHULZE/DPA, TNS

Po­lice of­fi­cers stand watch at the Ge­org-Brauchle-Ring sub­way sta­tion dur­ing the mas­sive man­hunt Fri­day night.

JO­HANNES SIMON, GETTY IM­AGES

Heav­ily armed po­lice con­verged on the south­ern Ger­man state cap­i­tal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.