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Austrian police find body of suspected killer

A body believed to be that of a suspected poacher, who killed three policemen and a paramedic, was found in a farmhouse.

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2013 00:14
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Police and army vehicles surrounded the scene of the standoff in Melk on Tuesday [Reuters]

Police searching a farm for a gunman who killed four people in central Austria say they have found the charred body of what they believe was the suspect.

Regional police spokesman Roland Scherscher said the body was discovered early on Wednesday after police pushed in a hidden door that opened into a concealed cellar in one of the buildings on the farm the gunman had holed up in.

The body was found more than a day after the gunman barricaded himself in a farm building near Melk, a town 70 kilometres west of Vienna.

Scherscher told reporters that forensic experts still had to identify the body but police believe it was that of the gunman, who apparently set himself ablaze.

Police said the suspect, 55, first shot dead a police officer late on Monday after breaking through a roadblock in the province of Lower Austria near Vienna, where authorities were trying to catch poachers, or hunters shooting deer without a license.

He then killed a paramedic and wounded another policeman hurrying to the scene.

After fatally shooting another police officer at a separate roadblock, the man then fled in a stolen police car to his home near the city of Melk, about 70 km (40 miles) away, taking another policeman with him as a hostage.

That officer was later found dead in a barn nearby.

The Krone tabloid quoted a friend of the suspect as saying he had confessed in a telephone call from his home as a police helicopter circled overhead and officers closed in.

"Unfortunately it is true. I shot three policemen tonight," the paper quoted the conversation as related by the friend. "I am the Annaberg poacher. They shot me too, in the stomach. But it doesn't matter.

"I shot Burgi (his German shepherd dog) and they are not going to get me either."

The newspaper quoted the friend as saying the suspected gunman had confided two weeks ago that he was schizophrenic.

Violent crime is rare in Austria, but hunting is a centuries-old tradition in the Alpine republic enjoyed by tens of thousands, many of them farmers and landowners.

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