Friday 27 April 2018

Terror in Munich: 'I am German' - far-Right gunman on rampage

A least 10 dead as lone gunman targets children in Munich fast food restaurant

A police officer takes part in the search for the gunman. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
A police officer takes part in the search for the gunman. (Matthias Balk/dpa via AP)
Police officers keep guard as shoppers are escorted from inside a Munich shopping centre. (Photo by Joerg Koch/Getty Images)
Officers at the entrance to the shopping centre in Munich. Photo by Joerg Koch/Getty Images
A screen grab shows the gunman outside the McDonald’s
People flee the scene of the shootings. (AP)
The body of one victim is covered with a sheet outside the shopping centre. Photo: AP
People evacuated after a shooting in a shopping mall walk with their hands up in Munich. AFP/Getty Images

Peter Foster

At least 10 people were confirmed dead last night after a lone gunman opened fire on a McDonald's restaurant in the centre of Munich.

The attack initially raised fears of another Paris-style, Isil-inspired gun attack, but clear signs then emerged that a far-Right group was responsible after video footage appeared to show one gunman shouting: "I am German."

Click here to view full-size graphic
Click here to view full-size graphic

Last night, police gave a "cautious all-clear" after determining that the gunman, who acted alone, was among the 10 dead in the wake of the "shooting rampage" in the Olympia Einkaufszentrum (OEZ) shopping centre near the city's Olympic stadium.

He is believed to have killed himself. A red back-pack he was wearing throughout the attack was being investigated by a bomb disposal robot late last night.

Earlier, police had urged people to stay in their homes in a city-wide lockdown amid concerns that up to three gunman were still at large after the first shots were fired at around about 5.50pm local time.

Despite a state of emergency being declared in the city, the Munich public transport system reopened shortly after midnight.

There was no comment from German Chancellor Angela Merkel last night but she was understood to have scheduled a meeting with the German heads of secuity this morning to review the situation.

Police said they did not believe the attack was the work of an Islamist group. Witnesses told local television that one gunman shouted "f------ foreigners", although the reports could not be independently confirmed.

The first shots were reportedly fired in Hanauer Street, west of the Olympic park, before the gunman then moved to the shopping centre.

"The witnesses said there were three different people with weapons," a police statement said. In the confusion, police said that there had been reports of other shots fired in other locations - and they urged everyone in the city of 1.4 million people to take shelter.

People flee the scene of the shootings. (AP)
People flee the scene of the shootings. (AP)

Until last night, Germany had escaped the kind of mass terror attacks experienced in Paris, Brussels and Nice over the past 18 months, but the shooting spree means that Munich will now be added to that list.

It took place five years to the day that Anders Behring Breivik, an Islamophobic Norwegian far-Right terrorist, murdered 77 people in a gun and bomb attack in Oslo.

Germany has been on a heightened state of terror alert for several months, with increased security at public buildings, transport hubs and large public gatherings.

Munich is Germany's third largest city and the capital of Bavaria, the powerful southern state that was on the front line of last year's refugee crisis. More than a million migrants were accepted into Germany last year, stoking tensions over immigration and leading to a sharp rise in the electoral fortunes of the far-Right Alternative for Germany party.

The body of one victim is covered with a sheet outside the shopping centre. Photo: AP
The body of one victim is covered with a sheet outside the shopping centre. Photo: AP

Local media said that the gunman had been filmed shooting at children outside the restaurant before continuing his rampage in an adjoining shopping centre and then fleeing towards the nearest metro station.

In one unverified video of the incident a man with dark hair, wearing a black T-shirt and denim trousers, appears to take aim at people outside the McDonald's before opening fire.

Smartphone video showed people running from exits near the McDonald's on the street leading to the shopping centre.

In a third film, shots can be heard ringing out as people duck and run for cover. Within minutes of the shots being fired, police and ambulances had surrounded the centre where some shoppers remained trapped in place as the hunt for at least one - and, police said, possibly more than one - gunmen began.

An employee still inside the shopping centre said "many shots were fired".

A screen grab shows the gunman outside the McDonald’s
A screen grab shows the gunman outside the McDonald’s


"All the people from outside came streaming into the store and I only saw one person on the ground who was so severely injured that he definitely didn't survive," said the worker, who declined to give their name.

"We have no further information, we're just staying in the back in the storage rooms. No police have approached us yet."

Law enforcement agencies were immediately reinforced by tactical special forces units in full combat gear, with units working back-to-back to cover each other, as a police helicopter hovered overhead aiding the search for the gunmen.

As news of the attacks spread across social media, Munich police closed road and rail links and issued a city-wide citizens' alert.

Taxi drivers were also reportedly sent messages from police to avoid the city centre and not to pick up any passengers in an effort to limit any further casualties as the search for the gunmen continued.

Livestream video pictures showed those who had escaped gathering in huddles outside the shopping centre, a complex built in the 1970s.

An Irish barman said the city was on lockdown. Patrick O'Connor, from Arklow, Co Wicklow - a father of one who manages Kennedy's Irish Bar and Restaurant in Munich - said the bar was on lockdown with up to 80 customers inside.

"We've had customers and staff members breaking down…they can't believe that terror has come to Munich. A lot of people are on edge," he said.

Mr O'Connor said his wife and three-year-old daughter were dining in the restaurant and decided to leave around the same time shots were fired in the nearby shopping centre.

He tried to contact them, but started to panic when the mobile network went down.

"For the very first time in my life I actually felt scared. I was shook up until I got in contact with them and they are okay.Munich has a good reputation as a very well policed city, people just don't know how to react to it."

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said there were no reports of any Irish citizens caught up in the shootings.

Irish Independent

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