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Hostage-taker in deadly German apartment siege was French, police say

Latest update : 05/07/2012

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Article text by News Wires

German police said Thursday that the man who killed four hostages before taking his own life in an apartment siege in the southwest city of Karlsruhe on Wednesday was a French national.

AFP - A heavily-armed man who shot dead four hostages and then himself in an hours-long siege at a German apartment over his imminent eviction was French, police said Thursday.

"I know that he is French and that he is from Alsace," a police spokesman told AFP, a day after the man barricaded himself and four people inside the flat in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe, 70 kilometres (40 miles) from the French border.

The spokesman was unable to say whether the man, described as 53 and unemployed, also had German nationality.

"I know that he also had a home in a village in the north of Alsace," he said but declined to identify it.

According to a French police source, the man, whose name has not been released, had lived in Soufflenheim, a French village with around 5,000 inhabitants on the Franco-German border, in 2002.

The source could not say when he had left the area or if he possibly still had family there.

Police stormed the flat around four hours after the drama began in a leafy residential area and found five bodies, including that of the hostage-taker.

Officials said the gunman appeared to have planned his actions and that his victims, who included his 55-year-old partner, a bailiff, a locksmith and the new flat owner, had been "basically executed".

He was armed with two pistols, two other guns, ammunition and a disabled hand grenade.

It is not yet known how he got hold of the weapons, but Karlsruhe police have contacted their colleagues in France to establish whether the man could have obtained the weapons there legally, the spokesman said.

The gunman's partner had owned the apartment but fallen behind on maintenance fees and the home had been auctioned off.

The new owner ordered the couple to be evicted, prompting the bailiff, the locksmith and a social worker, who planned to advise the pair on their options and was allowed by the hostage-taker to leave the flat, to go to the home.

Autopsies are due to be carried out on Friday, German police said.

 

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