Friday 20 April 2018

Germany mourns the victims of Munich massacre

Flowers and candles left at the Olympia shopping centre in tribute to the nine people shot dead by a teenage gunman
Flowers and candles left at the Olympia shopping centre in tribute to the nine people shot dead by a teenage gunman
People mourn with flower tributes near the scene of the Munich massacre (AP)

Candlelit vigils were held in Munich as the identities of those cut down by a teenage gunman began to emerge.

Earlier a father visited the scene at the Olympia shopping centre to mourn his son's death, while others paid tribute to friends and loved ones lost in the massacre that left nine people dead, most of them teenagers.

A further 27 people were injured in Friday's attack - 10 of whom are in a critical condition, including a 13-year-old boy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the tragedy had plunged Germany into "deep and profound mourning" that left a "night of horror" lying behind the people of Munich.

The lone killer, an 18-year-old German-Iranian named in reports as Ali Sonboly, is thought to have attempted to lure victims to a McDonald's opposite the mall with a fake Facebook profile promising free food.

It is unclear if those who died or were injured when he opened fire with a pistol had been enticed by message that is being probed by police.

Among the dead were two 14-year-old Kosovan girls, Armela Segashi and Sabina Sulaj, and their Turkish friends Can Leyla, 14 and Selcuk Kilic, 15, according to reports.

A 17-year-old named in reports as Hussein Daitzik, of Greek origin, is said to have been shot dead as he heroically shielded his sister.

Another youngster, named locally as Guilliano Kollman, 18, reportedly died after being shot outside the McDonald's where Sonboly began his murderous rampage.

On Saturday afternoon Naim Zabergja, a policeman of Kosovan heritage, visited the scene to lay flowers where his son, Dijamant, 21, was killed.

According to reports the oldest victim of the killer was Sevda Dag, a 45-year-old Turkish woman.

At a press conference Mrs Merkel said the events are "difficult to bear for everyone" and pledged to "find out the background" of what happened.

She added: "What lies behind the people of Munich is a night of horror - we are still shocked by the pictures and reports of the witnesses.

"Nine people who were going shopping on the Friday evening, or wanted to eat something, they are now dead - it seems according to the investigations, hit and killed by the bullets of one single perpetrator."

The Chancellor said the operation between the agencies and security forces on Friday night was "seamless" and thanked them for their "phenomenal" effort.

She said: "We are in deep and profound mourning for those who will never return to their families. The families, siblings, friends to whom everything will be void and empty today.

"I would like to tell them, in the name of many, many people in Germany, we share in your grief, we think of you and we are suffering with you.

"Our thoughts also go out to the numerous injured people - may they recover quickly and completely - they will receive all the support they need.

"Such an evening and such a night are difficult to bear for every one of us. They are even more difficult to bear because we have had so many different and difficult reports of horrors in the past few days."

Officials said the killer used a 9mm pistol and had 300 rounds of ammunition in his rucksack when he went on what they called a "classic shooting rampage".

Police said the weapon was a Glock 17 handgun which had had its serial number illegally filed off, and there were indications the gunman had been in psychiatric care and treated for depression.

They confirmed his room in the flat he was living in had been searched, and that documents of "frenzied attacks" had been discovered, but no evidence he had links to Islamic State.

According to reports the killer had an "obvious" link to Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik - who, five years to the day of the Munich attack, slaughtered 77 people.

Police investigator Robert Heimberger said that it appeared the gunman had hacked a Facebook account and lured people to the shopping centre with an offer of free food.

The posting, sent from a young woman's account, urged people to go to the centre at 4pm, saying: "I'll give you something if you want, but not too expensive."

Mr Heimberger said they are investigating as "it appears it was prepared by the suspect and then sent out".

Officials said the attacker was not known to them and had no criminal record. He had been in psychiatric care and was treated for depression. He later killed himself.

Three of the victims are believed to be from Kosovo, three from Turkey and one from Greece - seven of the dead are understood to be teenagers.

Press Association

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News