Four German police wounded in raid

2016-10-19 20:00
A police vehicle stands in front of the house in Georgensgmuend, where an anti-government extremist opened fire on police in southern Germany during a raid. (Nicolas Armer, dpa via AP)

A police vehicle stands in front of the house in Georgensgmuend, where an anti-government extremist opened fire on police in southern Germany during a raid. (Nicolas Armer, dpa via AP)

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Berlin - Four German police officers were wounded, one of them critically, when a member of the shadowy far-right group "Citizens of the Reich" opened fire during a raid on Wednesday, authorities said.

The 49-year-old alleged gunman belonging to the so-called Reichsbuerger movement was also slightly injured in the struggle with officers in the Bavarian town of Georgensmuend and taken into custody, police said in a statement.

Local authorities had ordered the seizure of the man's arsenal of about 30 firearms, after his permits were rescinded due to a determination that he was psychologically "unsound".

The suspect, who previously ran a martial arts school, now faces charges of attempted murder.

"I am shocked by this case," state interior minister Joachim Herrmann told reporters, calling for an "immediate and thorough investigation" of the right-wing extremist movement.

It was the second incident in three months involving the Reichsbuerger group, which does not recognise the legitimacy of the German republic and believes in the continued existence of the German empire or "Reich".

As a result, many refuse to pay taxes and fines owed to the state.

In August, a member of the group - a former Mister Germany pageant winner - opened fire on police carrying out an eviction order at his house in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The 41-year-old suspect was seriously wounded and three police officers suffered light injuries.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic security watchdog, which keeps tabs on extremist groups, said it had no current figures on the number of Reichsbuerger members.


But an interior ministry spokesperson later told reporters that the movement was seen as "fragmented", with a few hundred members spread throughout the country.

The German government had warned in September that some of its members were becoming radicalised, citing aggression toward state authorities "which could end up in seriously violent acts including killings".

It added that some Reichsbuerger had ideological ties with the neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier movements.

The suspect in Bavaria had come to the attention of the authorities when they visited his property over the summer to inspect how he had stored his firearms, which are subject to strict laws in Germany.

He kicked the officers off his land, and wrote a threatening letter calling himself a Reichsbuerger and saying he did not accept their right to question him.

He had also previously refused to pay a vehicle tax.

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