Gunman shoots at Swiss police

2010-09-09 17:03

Geneva – Heavily armed police surrounded a house in the western Swiss city of Biel on Thursday after a gunman holed up inside fired several shots at officers, badly injuring one.

Local media reported that specially trained police with automatic rifles have taken up position in the area. The Swiss army has dispatched a Super Puma helicopter equipped with heat detecting cameras to the scene, an army spokesperson told online news site

Police said in a statement that the 67-year-old man barricaded himself inside the house on Wednesday after authorities invited potential buyers to view the man's home ahead of a forced sale.

He subsequently fired several shots and one officer was badly injured, the statement said.

Police declined to clarify whether the officer was shot or otherwise injured but said the siege is ongoing.

Dozens of police cars, an ambulance and fire fighters were at the scene and authorities have evacuated parts of the city, which is situated about 30km northwest of the capital Bern.

Shootings are not uncommon in Switzerland, where gun clubs are popular and many men have army rifles at home as part of the country's tradition of military readiness.

The Defence Ministry estimates that there are about 2.2 million firearms in this nation of 7.5 million people. The independent Small Arms Survey puts the figure at between 2.3 million and 4.5 million.

In 2001 an unemployed man shot dead 14 people at a local parliament in the central Swiss city of Zug before killing himself.