Police surround school in hostage stand-off

Armed police surrounded a school today in southwest Germany where a gunman holding four young students hostage demanded a ransom of €1m.

Armed police surrounded a school today in southwest Germany where a gunman holding four young students hostage demanded a ransom of €1m.

Police spokesman Thomas Keller described the suspect as a young man aged 16 to 18, but could not confirm reports that he was a pupil at the school. The hostages were all about 12-years-old, he said.

A teacher was apparently in the second-floor computer room when the gunman burst in at about 3 pm local time, but it was not immediately clear whether she was released or had escaped.

“We think in the beginning the teacher was there and she was sent away,” Keller said.

The gunman demanded cash and a getaway vehicle during negotiations with police over a mobile phone, Keller said.

Police still hope to resolve the stand-off peacefully.

“We will do everything we can to solve this peacefully, without using force. And for that negotiations with the suspect are needed,” police spokesman Uwe Bieler said.

The incident comes six months after one of the world’s worst school shootings in the eastern city of Erfurt, when a 19-year-old former student went on a rampage at the Gutenberg high school, killing 13 teachers, two students and a police officer before turning the gun on himself.

Germans were confronted with the spectre of school violence on such a scale for the first time, and parliament took the step of passing a bill to tighten German gun laws, including raising the age for gun ownership.

The Erfurt shooter, Robert Steinhaeuser, had licences for both the pistol and pump-action shotgun that he used in the attack.

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