German Viernheim cinema complex attacker shot dead

Media caption,
Eyewitness Eva Scaieke describes watching the incident unfold

A masked man who reportedly fired shots in a cinema complex in western Germany has been shot dead by police, the state's interior minister has said.

Peter Beuth told the state of Hessen's parliament that police stormed the Kinopolis complex in Viernheim, near Frankfurt, after shots were reported.

"The police thought that the gunman was holding hostages and because of that he was shot dead," he added.

Mr Beuth said no-one else had been hurt.

However, reports said some people were suffering the effects of tear gas released as police stormed the complex.

German media say the security sources have played down suggestions that it may have been a terror attack. They say the man appears to have been a confused individual who was acting alone.

Image source, AFP

Heavily armed police surrounded the complex after the incident began on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Beuth also said: "The police had an emergency call at 2:45pm [12:45 GMT]. The caller said there was a masked man... armed with a long gun. It is unclear whether it was a real gun.

"The caller heard four shots and said that the masked man appeared a little mentally unstable. Police special forces were called."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper said it was unclear if there was a political or ideological motive, or if it was an attempted robbery.

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