German cinema gunman shot dead

  • 24/06/2016
German police outside the cinema in Viernheim where the hostage situation took place (Reuters)
German police outside the cinema in Viernheim where the hostage situation took place (Reuters)

A masked man has been shot dead after entering a cinema in southwestern Germany with what appeared to be a rifle and taking several hostages, authorities say. No one else was hurt.

The armed man entered the Kinopolis cinema in the town of Viernheim in the early afternoon on Thursday (local time) and apparently fired a gun.

The man held several hostages, police spokeswoman Christiane Kobus said, but she didn't have a precise number.

Officers "successively entered the cinema and were able to locate the man and the people he was holding", Kobus told The Associated Press.

"There was a threat situation and the man was then shot dead by a colleague."

Police said that the deployment lasted about three hours. There were no other injuries.

Kobus said she had no information on the assailant's identity and motives.

Another police spokesman, Bernd Hochstaedter, said that "there are no indications at present of an Islamist background".

Hesse state's interior minister, Peter Beuth, said it wasn't clear whether the weapon was functional, and police said they were still checking that.

Beuth told the regional legislature in Wiesbaden that the man had been masked and that apparently four shots were fired.

He also said the gunman appeared to have been a "disturbed man".

Nina Reininger, a prosecutor in nearby Darmstadt, said her office was investigating but she had no information so far on the attacker's identity.

The Kinopolis, a multiplex theatre, is located in a shopping mall in Viernheim, which is near the city of Mannheim.

The incident happened on a hot summer afternoon and the cinema appears to have been relatively empty at the time.