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Masked gunman shot dead in German cinema incident

Published 23/06/2016

A masked man has been shot dead after entering a cinema in south-west Germany with a weapon and taking several hostages.

No one else was injured in the incident in which the armed man entered the Kinopolis movie theatre in the early afternoon in the town of Viernheim and apparently fired a gun.

Police shot the suspect dead about three hours later, Hesse interior minister Peter Beuth said.

"We believe that there were no injured people, and that the people who were in the cinema with the perpetrator could be freed uninjured," he said.

A police spokeswoman at the scene, Christiane Kompus, told The Associated Press that she had no information on the assailant's identity and motives.

She said the man had been holding several hostages, but did not have a precise number.

Mr Beuth said it was not clear whether the weapon was real. He told the regional legislature in Wiesbaden that the man was masked and that apparently four shots were fired.

Mr Beuth said the man had given a confused impression, news agency dpa reported.

Nina Reininger, a prosecutor in nearby Darmstadt, said her office was investigating but she has no information so far on the attacker's identity.

Officers "successively entered the cinema and were able to locate the man and the people he was holding," Ms Kobus said. "There was a threat situation and the man was then shot dead by a colleague."

Police said that the deployment lasted about three hours. There were no other injuries, Ms Kobus said.

Another police spokesman, Bernd Hochstaedter, said "there are no indications at present of an Islamist background".

Nina Reininger, a prosecutor in nearby Darmstadt, said her office was investigating but she has no information so far on the attacker's identity.

The Kinopolis, a multiplex theatre, is located in a shopping centre in Viernheim, which is near the city of Mannheim. The incident happened on a hot summer afternoon and the cinema appears to have been relatively empty at the time.

AP

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