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Eight killed, including gunman, in shooting in Hamburg

Eight people were killed in a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness place of worship in the German city of Hamburg and the gunman was among the dead, police said on Friday. German police were searching for a motive behind a gunman, believed to have been acting alone.

Police received a call soon after 9 pm on Thursday and officers arrived at the scene to find several people seriously injured and some dead.

“Then they heard a shot from above, they went upstairs and found one further person,” said a police spokesperson.

“Several people were seriously injured, some even fatally. We are on-site with a large contingent of forces,” said Hamburg police on Twitter shortly after the incident.

Nach ersten Erkenntnissen wurde in einer Kirche in der Straße Deelböge im Stadtteil #GroßBorstel geschossen. Dabei wurden mehrere Menschen schwer verletzt, einige sogar tödlich. Wir sind mit einem Großaufgebot an Kräften vor Ort. Weitere Informationen folgen. #schießerei #h0903

— Polizei Hamburg (@PolizeiHamburg) March 9, 2023

The man who shot dead several people at a center of meeting for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hamburg is believed to be a former member of their community, Spiegel magazine reported. The man was aged between 30 and 40 and was not known to authorities as an extremist, the report said, citing unnamed sources.

A spokesperson for the Hamburg police could not confirm the details, referring to an upcoming press conference planned for 1100 GMT.

The Bild newspaper reported seven people were dead and eight wounded in the shooting in the northern city that is home to Germany’s biggest port.

“Bad news from Hamburg,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on Twitter early on Friday, calling the attack “a brutal act of violence”.

He said his thoughts were with the victims, their families, and the security forces, who he said “have been through a difficult deployment” since the shooting.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said on Twitter that the authorities were working urgently to investigate the crime.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses said in a statement on their website that the religious community was “deeply affected by the horrific attack on its members of the faith in a Kingdom Hall in Hamburg after a service”.

The group expressed sympathy for the victims, families “and the traumatized eyewitnesses”. Ministers were “doing their best to support them in this difficult hour. We pray for all those affected and wish them the power of the God of all comfort”.

Broadcaster NDR quoted a police spokesperson saying that one or several unknown perpetrators shot at people in a church at about 9 pm local time (2000 GMT).

“The dead people all have gunshot wounds,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Germany’s DPA news agency, citing a reporter on the scene, said that local residents in the northern Alsterdorf district of Hamburg had received warnings on their mobile phones of a
“life threatening situation” and that streets had been sealed off.

The mayor of Hamburg expressed shock.

“I extend my deepest sympathy to the families of the victims. The forces are working at full speed to pursue the perpetrators and clarify the background,” tweeted Peter Tschentscher.

Die Meldungen aus Alsterdorf / Groß Borstel sind erschütternd. Den Angehörigen der Opfer gilt mein tiefes Mitgefühl. Die Einsatzkräfte arbeiten mit Hochdruck an der Verfolgung des / der Täter & der Aufklärung der Hintergründe. Bitte beachten Sie die Hinweise der @PolizeiHamburg.

— Peter Tschentscher (@TschenPe) March 9, 2023

Germany has some of the most stringent rules around gun control in Europe and the interior minister said late last year the government planned to tighten gun laws after a suspected plot by a far-right group to violently overthrow the state.

Germany has been shaken by a number of shootings in the last few years. In February 2020, a gunman with suspected far-right links shot dead nine people, including migrants from Turkey, in the western town of Hanau before killing himself and his mother.

In October 2019, a gunman killed two people when he opened fire outside a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.

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