German authorities announced Thursday that a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witness center in Hamburg had claimed several lives, with the shooter possibly among them. Numerous local media outlets claimed that the shooting had left seven people dead and eight seriously injured, though police have not released a death toll.
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According to a police tweet, “multiple people were seriously injured, some even fatally,” in the incident. Police urged people not to speculate, saying that they currently had “no reliable information” regarding the crime’s motive.
Police advised locals to remain indoors after sounding the alarm for “extreme danger” in the area using a catastrophe warning app. Peter Tschentscher, the mayor of the port city, posted on Twitter that he was shocked by the attack. He expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims and stated that emergency services were doing everything possible to make things clear.
Police claimed that on Thursday night something had happened in the unremarkable three-story structure. According to the neighborhood newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt, Jehovah’s Witnesses had gathered for a weekly Bible study gathering.
About 175,000 members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a late 19th-century US Christian movement noted for its door-to-door evangelism and non-violent message, reside in Germany, including 3,800 in Hamburg. According to police, the first officers on the scene discovered a number of dead bodies and severely injured people.
According to the Hamburger Abendblatt, the fire department was taking care of 17 attendees who were unharmed.
Police said that after hearing a shot in the “upper part of the building,” they went to the scene and discovered a body. The police spokesman stated, “We have no signs of a perpetrator on the run.
As opposed to this, police have “indications that a perpetrator may have been in the building and may even be among the dead.” The perpetrator was “possibly” the person found in the upper section of the structure, the spokesman continued.
Munich police posted an early-morning tweet on Thursday morning stating that they had discovered a dead individual in a community center in Gross Borstel who they believed might have been the perpetrator.
“We are conducting checks and conducting a thorough search to rule out the involvement of other perpetrators,” the statement continued.
Recent years have seen a number of assaults in Germany, both by far-right and jihadist extremists. 12 people were murdered in a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016—one of the deadliest acts by Islamist radicals.
The Tunisian attacker was an ISIS supporter and an unsuccessful asylum applicant. Because of its involvement in the alliance fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the most populous country in Europe continues to be a target for jihadist organizations.
According to statistics from the interior ministry, the number of Islamists deemed dangerous in the nation increased by five to 615 between 2013 and 2021. However, a number of far-right attacks have also targeted Germany in recent years, leading to allegations that the government is not doing enough to combat neo-Nazi violence.
In the central German city of Hanau in February 2020, a far-right extremist fired and killed 10 people while injuring five more. And on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in 2019, two persons died when a neo-Nazi attempted to storm a synagogue in Halle.