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Horror in Munich

Horror in MunichHorror in Munich

An 18-year-old gunman who apparently acted alone opened fire near a busy shopping mall in Munich on Friday evening, killing at least nine people in the third attack on civilians in Western Europe in eight days.

The pistol-wielding attacker, identified by Munich Police Chief Hubertus Andrae as a dual national German-Iranian from Munich, was later found dead of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Authorities said it was too early to say whether it was a terrorist attack.

Police, citing witnesses, had initially said they were looking for up to three suspects and were treating the incident as a suspected terrorist attack, Reuters reported.

But authorities told a news conference early on Saturday the shooter was believed to have staged the attack alone, opening fire in a fast food restaurant before moving to the mall.

Andrae said authorities did not see similarities to an attack in southern Germany last Monday in which an axe-wielding 17-year-old asylum-seeker killed five people in an incident claimed by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

The police chief said it was premature to say whether the Friday incident was a terrorist attack, as French President Francois Hollande said, or the work of a deranged person.

Police said they were investigating a video in which the gunman is seen and heard exchanging racial slurs and profanities with another man.

"We are trying to determine who said what," a police spokesman said.

There was no known motive for the shooting in Germany's third largest city, which went into lockdown with transport halted and highways sealed off immediately after the attack.

It was the third major act of violence against civilians in Europe in eight days. Previous attacks in France and Germany were claimed by IS.

"At least 16 people, including several children, were in hospital and three were in critical condition," Andrae said.

There was no immediate claim of the attack, but supporters of IS celebrated on social media.

The gunman, whose body was found on a side street near the mall, was identified but Andrae said he was not previously known to police.

A police spokesman said police did not release names of suspects, even if they were killed, due to privacy concerns.

- Anniversary

Nearly three hours after the shooting, authorities found a body about 1 km from the scene that was later determined to be the gunman.

German radio station Bayerischer Rundfunk said the man had a red backpack similar to one used by a gunman seen at a McDonald's restaurant where the attack reportedly began. It said police were using a robot to investigate the backpack.

German news magazine Focus said the man had shot himself in the head.

Friday was also the fifth anniversary of the massacre in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people. Breivik has been hailed by far-right militants in Europe and America.

The incidents in Germany follow an attack in Nice, France, in which a Tunisian drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84. IS took credit for the attack.

The Munich assault was also reminiscent of militant attacks in a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013, and in Mumbai, India, in 2008.

Financialtribune.com