At least seven people were killed and several others wounded after a deadly shooting erupted at a Jehovah's Witness church in the German city of Hamburg on Thursday evening.
The incident was reported in the Gross Borstel district of Germany’s second-biggest at around 9 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) with police saying the gunman was believed to be among the dead.
“We have no indications of a perpetrator on the run,” police said soon after the attack. Later, they found a “lifeless person" believed to be the perpetrator.
In a Twitter post early on Friday, Hamburg police said they believed there was only one shooter and that the investigation "into the motive behind the crime continues".
“We only know that several people died here; several people are wounded, they were taken to hospitals,” police spokesperson Holger Vehren was quoted as saying, adding that he had no information on the severity of their injuries.
The German police will hold a press conference on the state of their investigation into the attack later on Friday.
Residents around the locality said that they had received warning messages of a “life-threatening situation” on their mobile phones.
"We heard shots," one unnamed witness told reporters. “There were 12 continuous shots… then we saw how people were taken away in black bags,” he added.
“It was about four firing periods. During these periods, several shots were always fired, approximately 20 seconds to one minute apart,” another eye-witness was quoted as saying in media reports.
“I then looked further out of the window and saw a person running hectically from the ground floor to the first floor at the Jehovah’s Witnesses.” People were later carried by police officers onto the street on their hands and feet.
Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher expressed his “deepest sympathy” for the families of the victims, calling the incident “shocking” in a post on Twitter.
“My deepest condolences go to the relatives of the victims. Emergency services are working at full speed to pursue the perpetrator(s),” he wrote.
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. https://t.co/38UcdguLzH— Peter Tschentscher (@TschenPe) March 9, 2023
The Jehovah's Witnesses, an international Christian denomination, was founded in the United States in the 19th century and has more than 100-year history in Germany with millions of followers.
Germany has seen multiple mass shootings in recent years, sending ripples of shock and fear across the country.
In January 2022, at least one person was killed after a man suspected of far-right links opened fire on students in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany. In 2020, a mass shooting at two shisha bars in Hanau killed several people.
In 2020, a mass shooting at two bars in Hanau killed several people.
In 2019, a gunman killed two people after opening fire outside a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
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