A police officer has died of his injuries after being shot by an anti-government extremist in Germany in what officials condemned as a “brutal crime”.
The unnamed man was part of an armed response unit sent to confiscate legally-owned hunting weapons from an “unreliable” resident in Georgensgmünd, who had refused mandatory checks.
When the team entered the 49-year-old man’s home early on Wednesday morning, he opened fire from behind a door, shooting two police officers and leaving two others with serious injuries from flying glass.
A 32-year-old officer was taken to hospital in a critical condition after bullets struck his helmet, elbow and edge of his protective vest.
He died from his injuries in the early hours of Thursday morning, a spokesperson for Central Franconia Police said.
Joachim Herrmann, the Bavarian interior minister, said he was “deeply saddened” by the officer’s death.
“This brutal crime has left us all stunned,” he added. “This is a difficult time for the Bavarian police and a terrible loss.
“We will all do our utmost to ensure the perpetrator receives his just punishment.
“Our great sympathies and full solidarity go out to his parents, relatives and colleagues.”
All police forces in the state of Bavaria are putting marks of mourning on their vehicles until the officer’s funeral.
The man, who was part of a Spezialeinsatzkommandos (SEK) unit, was the 65th Bavarian police officer to be killed since 1945.
His alleged murderer identifies as a “Reichsbürger”, part of a far-right movement that claims the current German state is illegitimate and is alleged to have neo-Nazi links.
He was injured and taken into custody during the raid, which uncovered an arsenal of at least 30 weapons.
Reichsbürgers adhere to their own self-declared government, known as the KRR, which issue their own version of official documents such as driving licences, while followers frequently spurn federal taxes or fines.
They are mainly known for aggravating German authorities by pursuing obscure legal claims rather than violence, but a member was wounded during a gun battle as he was evicted from his home in August.
A recent report by Berlin's state intelligence service describes the Reichsbürgers as “an extremely diverse range of small groups and individuals who believe in an ideological mixture of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic views, and who have been behaving increasingly aggressively for some time".
The Georgensgmünd shooter, who is unemployed and previously operated a martial arts school, had reportedly written “scurrilous letters” on the movement after joining in the summer. He remains in police custody.
Mr Herrmann vowed to increase surveillance of the Reichsbürgerbewegung (Reich Citziens’ Movement), which has already been under “intensive observation” by state intelligence services because of some members’ “far-right aims”.
The minister said there would be careful assessment of their ability to own firearms, announcing a goal to “deprive all Reichsbürgers who legally own a weapon of their licenses”.
“To be part of the Reichsbürger movement is to be a right-wing extremist,” Mr Herrmann added.
“Anyone who rejects the German rule of law can offer no guarantee that they will handle weapons in accordance with regulations.”
The federal interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, also called for new measures to be taken to protect police officers after condemning the “horrific” death.
“Police officers are giving everything for the safety of our country,” he added. “The increasing number of attacks by extremists is unbearable and unacceptable.”
Germany remains on a state of high alert following a series of terror attacks by Isis supporters, including a suicide bombing in Ansbach and axe attack on a train.
But there is also growing concern over far-right movements, which have been gathering increasing support during tensions over the refugee crisis and sexual assaults in Cologne.
Centres for asylum seekers have been the target of arson attacks and racist graffiti, while police uncovered a neo-Nazi plot to attack refugee accommodation with explosives last year.
Independent News Service