She declined to say how many people had been taken hostage, but said all were being cared for by medical professionals.

The Bild newspaper named the man on its website as Oliver Q., a  41-year-old with previous firearms offences.

Police commandos evacuated a large part of the city centre and deployed snipers on rooftops after being called to the store at around 12:30 pm  (10:30 GMT).

A police officer said it was unclear whether the man was armed with a real gun or a toy.