Berlin: Several people were killed today in a shooting rampage in a Munich shopping centre and the attacker or attackers are still at large, police said.
The Bild newspaper reported that a gunman ran through the mall near the Olympic stadium in the southern German city, firing on several people before fleeing in the direction of a nearby metro station.
“There are several dead and injured,” a Munich police spokeswoman told AFP, adding that the shooting had started shortly before 2130 IST at a McDonald’s restaurant. “The attacker, or several attackers, are apparently still at large.”
Europe has been on alert for terrorism in the wake of a string of attacks including bombings in neighbouring France and Belgium.
The OEZ shopping centre was surrounded by armed police who were hunting for the attacker, while a helicopter flew overhead.
“There is a major police operation under way in the shopping centre,” Munich police said on Twitter, urging people to avoid the area.
Emergency vehicles were seen in the streets outside, as shoppers rushed away from the mall, some carrying children in their arms.
“Attention — avoid the neighbourhood around the OEZ. Stay in your homes. Leave the street,” the Munich police tweet said.
Germany has so far escaped the kind of large-scale jihadist attacks seen in neighbouring France.
But the shooting comes just days after a teenage asylum seeker went on a rampage with an axe and a knife on a regional train in Germany on Monday, injuring five people, two of them critically.
One victim is still fighting for his life, the hospital treating him said Friday. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said the teenager was believed to be a “lone wolf” attacker who appeared to have been “inspired” by the Islamic State group but was not a member of the jihadist network.
Authorities said he shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest) three times as he ran through the carriage slashing passengers on the train near the southern city of Wuerzburg.
The attacker is believed to be either Afghan or Pakistani and investigators are still trying to determine his identity.
The train rampage triggered calls by politicians in Bavaria, of which Munich is the capital, to impose an upper limit on the number of refugees coming into the country.
The assailant had arrived as an unaccompanied minor in Germany in June 2015 and had been staying with a foster family in the region of the attack for the last two weeks.
A record 1.1 million migrants and refugees were let in to Germany last year, with Syrians making up the largest group followed by Afghans.
In the latest attack in France, 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel used a truck to mow down 84 people, including children, in the Riviera city of Nice last week.