At least six people were believed to have been killed in a shooting rampage at a Munich shopping centre on Friday , in an incident described by police as “suspected terrorism“. Till last reports, three armed suspects were at large, public transport systems shut and several highways north of Munich sealed off.
It is not clear what the attackers’ motive was or if they belonged to any terrorist outfit.
A police spokesperson said the attack started at a McDonald’s restaurant around 6pm local time and continued on a nearby street before the gunmen moved into the Olympia Einkaufszentrum mall, near the Olympic stadium, in the southern German city. At least one gunman later fled in the direction of a nearby Metro station. There are several dead and injured,” the police spokesperson said, without confirming the toll. Transport authorities halted train, tram and bus lines after the shooting, which comes a month after a teenage asylum seeker went on a stabbing spree on a regional train in Germany.
The OEZ shopping centre was surrounded by armed police, while a helicopter buzzed overhead. Emergency vehicles were seen in the streets outside, as shoppers rushed away, some carrying children. “Attention -avoid the neighbourhood around the OEZ. Stay in your homes. Leave the street,” the Munich police tweeted. Authorities were evacuating people from the mall but many others were hiding inside. “Many shots were fired, I can’t say how many but it’s been a lot,” an employee said from the mall.
A worker at another shop, Harun Balta, said, “We are still stuck inside the mall without any information; we’re waiting for the police to rescue us.”
The shopping centre is next to the Munich Olympic stadium, where the Palestinian militant group Black September killed 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games.
There was no claim of responsibility but supporters of the so-called Islamic State celebrated the rampage on social media. “Thank God, may God bring prosperity to our Islamic State men (sic),” read one tweet. “The Islamic state is expanding in Europe,” read another.
While Europe has been on alert for terrorism in the wake of a string of attacks, Germany has so far escaped the kind of large-scale jihadist terror seen in France. The train attacker, interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said, was believed to be a “lone wolf” who appeared to have been “inspired” by the Islamic State terror group but was not a member.
Source : The Times of India (Delhi)