Deaths in German town shootings

Police are investigating why a woman started a shootout that killed four people and injured a police officer in Germany.

    A shootout erupted at the hospital and left several people killed or wounded, police said. [AFP]

    A prosecutor says four people have died and a policeman has been seriously wounded in a town in southwestern Germany after an explosion in an apartment building and a shooting in the neighbouring hospital.

    Authorities believe the two events, which took place on Sunday, are linked.

    Loerrach prosecutor Dieter Inhofer said that two people were found dead in an apartment building that burst into flames after an explosion on Sunday afternoon. Police have identified the bodies as the shooter's 5-year-old son and her estranged husband.

    Police suspect they may have died before the explosion and fire because both bodies bore gunshot wounds. They said there was no immediate motive for the shooting.

    Inhofer said a 41-year-old woman was seen running from the blast into the neighbouring St. Elisabeth hospital, where she reportedly opened fire, killing a nurse, who had stab wounds and gunshot injuries to the head.

    "There was a very heavy exchange of gunfire in the hospital that had the potential to be very dangerous, but based on what we know right now ... no one else was injured," Inhofer said.

    Siegfried Schmid, an eyewitness, told Al Jazeera that the woman opened fire onto the police. 

    "I took the police to the first floor of the hospital to lock the ward," said Schmid ."The woman immediately began to shoot around again and shot a policeman in his knee. Then it got too hot for me, so I thought to myself 'I must get out!"

    Police said the officer is seriously injured.

    Loerrach, a town of some 48,000 people, lies near Germany's borders with France and Switzerland.

    The weekend incident comes only days after the manslaughter trial opened in Stuttgart last week of the father of Tim Kretschmer, the teenager who in March 2009 shot dead 15 people before killing himself at his old school.

    Joerg Kretschmer, a 51-year-old businessman, is accused of having violated gun laws because his 17-year-old son was able to take his 9mm Beretta pistol from his bedside for his killing spree in the southern town of Winnenden.

    SOURCE: Agencies and Al Jazeera


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