Panic, terror in Munich shooting rampage

2016-07-23 07:07

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Munich -  First came the crack of gunfire, then panicked screams and the wail of sirens as an armed attacker launched a killing spree in the German city of Munich on Friday.

Residents were going about their shopping at the busy Olympia mall, some eating at a McDonald's restaurant, when the horror began.

Panicked shoppers fled the building as armed anti-terror police flooded the streets in search of what was initially thought to be a group of three assailants but was later believed to be a young lone gunman armed with a handgun.

A police patrol shot and wounded the attacker but he managed to escape.

Authorities later discovered the body of the 18-year-old German-Iranian dead by his own hand just one kilometre from the mall.

Nine victims have been confirmed dead, and 16 others were wounded in the burst of violence, according to the latest official toll, as police revised earlier reports of a higher number of wounded.

While the manhunt was still under way police had called on residents of Germany's third-largest city to stay indoors, throwing the economic hub into lockdown.

"Attention - avoid the neighbourhood around the OEZ (Olympia). Stay in your homes. Leave the street," a Munich police tweet said.

The Bavarian capital's main train station was evacuated and bus, metro and tram services were suspended.

Survivors of the rampage described terrifying scenes.

"We entered McDonald's to eat... then there was panic, and people ran out," one woman told Bavarian public television.

She said she heard three gunshots, "children were crying, people rushed to the exit in panic".

A video posted on social media appeared to show a man dressed in black walking away from a McDonald's while firing repeatedly on a group of people, who screamed as they fled.

'Bodies, injured people' 

A man who said he worked at one of the shops in the mall, described how he came face-to-face with the shooter.

"I looked towards him, he fired at two people and I fled the building by climbing a wall.

"And then I saw bodies and injured people," he said.

According to one of his colleagues, the attacker was wearing military boots and carrying a backpack, he said.

Police chief Hubertus Andrae said the man had shouted something as he started his rampage but it was not yet clear what.

Police initially thought they were dealing with three attackers but it turned out that two men seen in a car leaving the scene "had nothing to do with it", Andrae said.

The shopping centre, which opened in the 1970s and bills itself as Bavaria's biggest, was surrounded by armed police, while a helicopter buzzed overhead.

The mall is not far from the Olympic stadium which hosted the 1972 summer Games and the athletes' village, the site of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by the Palestinian Black September group.

In a neighbourhood located near the mall, schoolchildren and their parents were celebrating the end of the academic year when news of the shooting spree broke.

The families rushed home, on foot or by car.

German television broadcast footage of deserted streets as bars and cafes, normally bustling on a warm summer evening, quickly closed.

In a gesture of solidarity, Munich residents posted messages online inviting those stuck in the city into their homes.

However as the night wore on, the public was no closer to knowing why the shooter had opened fire.

"The motive or explanation for this crime is completely unclear," Andrae told reporters.

Read more on:    germany  |  security

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