German Police: 8 Dead in Apparent Terror Attack

  • VOA News

    July 23, 2016 08:49

    As police hunt those responsible for a deadly shooting rampage at a shopping mall in Munich, they are already calling it a terror attack.

    On Twitter, Munich police said eight people are dead and at least 10 others are wounded after shots were fired at the Olympia Shopping Center Friday evening. A later Tweet reported that a ninth body was found and police are trying to determine if it was one of the attackers.

    Munich police used Twitter to urge citizens to remain indoors, refrain from posting images and video of police activity on social media to prevent the imagery from tipping off the perpetrators, and to avoid speculation.

    As they hunt for the attackers, police also urged people to avoid crowded areas. Subway, bus and trolley cars have been shut down. The German train company Deutsche Bahn stopped train traffic to Munich's main station. Friday's performances at the Tollwood music festival in nearby Olympiapark were canceled.

    The Associated Press reports that members of Germany's elite GSG9 anti-terrorism force are on their way to the scene.

    There are no details about who was responsible for the shooting. "All that we know and can say right now is that it was a cruel and inhumane attack," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff, Peter Altmaier. "We can't rule out that there are terrorist links. We can't confirm them, but we are investigating along those lines too."

    A spokesperson said that Merkel will convene the German security council Saturday in the wake of the shootings.

    Police evacuates people from the shopping mall in Munich on July 22, 2016 following a shootings earlier. /AFP

    ◆ Eye Witness Accounts

    In a Facebook post, Munich police said witnesses reported seeing three different people with guns near the mall.

    Witness Luan Zequiri told Germany's N-TV that he was near the McDonald's restaurant when the shooting broke out. He said he saw one gunman wearing boots and a backpack who yelled an anti-foreigner slur and "there was a really loud scream."

    "I looked in his direction and he shot two people on the stairs," Zequiri said.

    As the shooting unfolded, shoppers trapped inside the shopping center called or texted loved ones to tell them they were OK.

    Hockl Guenther told Reuters that his wife told him by phone that all the doors suddenly closed when the shooting began and she escaped with others to a room.

    "The one thing I have tried to say to her is... if somebody tries to come in to the room, don't be scared," Guenther said. "You have nothing to lose, if it's not the police, if it's clearly a terrorist you all have to run at them. Don't wait, don't talk, don't hesitate -- kill."

    ◆ Second Attack in a Week

    Friday's attack took place a week after a 17-year-old Afghan refugee attacked passengers with an axe on a train in Wurzburg, Germany, wounding four people, before police shot him dead. Islamic State claimed responsibility of the attack.

    In late June, a masked man opened fire at a German movie complex in the western town of Viernheim near Frankfurt, wounding several people. Special police officers shot him dead after storming the complex where the gunman had taken several hostages. All of whom escaped uninjured.

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