Shootings at Jehovah’s temple in Hamburg kill at least eight

At least eight people were killed in a shooting in the German city of Hamburg. Police say there is still no “reliable information” about a motive for the attack.

The number was forwarded to the police “website”, in which it also notes an unspecified number of injured. Bild newspaper had previously reported that the attack had caused a “bloodbath” and resulted in at least seven dead and eight seriously injured.

The filming took place in the Gross Borstel area, a religious site of Jehovah’s Witnesses. According to the newspaper “Hamburger Morgenpost”, Around 30 people were injured and Hamburg police confirmed eight dead, one of whom may be one of the attackers.

Police said they were alerted to the shooting at 9:15 p.m. Thursday (8:15 p.m. Lisbon) and that after arriving at the scene, they heard a gunshot on an upper floor of the building.

A police spokesman told reporters there was “evidence that the author of the attack” could be in the building, “possibly even among the dead.”

German news agency dpa reported that rescue teams removed 18 people, who escaped unharmed, from a building used by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“A large number of security forces are on site,” Hamburg police added on the social network Twitter, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Authorities admit the attack could have had more than one author. “Around 21.00 (20.00 in Lisbon), one or more unknown persons shot at people in a church,” the federal Civil Protection office said.

According to German media, several ambulances are at the scene and police guarantee that a large-scale operation is underway to capture other alleged perpetrators who may flee.

Authorities are appealing to the local population to stay at home while the police operation is underway. “Avoid the danger zone. In the danger zone, stay where you are and do not leave at this time,” advises Civil Protection.

Germany has been on high alert in recent years in the face of a dual terrorist threat, “jihadism” and right-wing extremism.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed regret for the “brutal act of violence”, stressing that his thoughts were with the victims and their families.

German Interior Minister Nancy Feiser also reacted on Twitter, saying she was “shocked by the terrible act of violence”.

The Jehovah’s Witness community also said it was “deeply saddened” by the fatal attack on members. “The religious community is deeply saddened by the horrific death of its members.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses are part of an international church, founded in the United States in the 19th century and headquartered in Warwick, New York, claiming a worldwide membership of about 8.7 million people, with about 170,000 in Germany.

German authorities have been on high alert in recent years against a dual terrorist threat from Islamic and right-wing extremism.

Germany has been the victim of attacks by Islamic extremist movements, particularly one truck attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group that killed 12 in Berlin in December 2016, the deadliest of its kind on German soil.

Germans remain a target for Islamic extremist groups, particularly because of the country’s involvement in the anti-IS coalition in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Between 2013 and the end of 2021, the number of Muslims considered dangerous in Germany has increased fivefold to 615, the German interior ministry said.

Following a tip from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), German authorities announced on January 8 the arrest of two Iranians suspected of preparing a chemical attack using ricin and cyanide.

Another threat is the far right, after several deadly attacks in recent years against religious communities or sites in the country.

In the racist attack in Hanau, near Frankfurt (west), in February 2020, a German involved in a conspiracy movement killed nine young people, all of foreign origin.

Between 2000 and 2007, a neo-Nazi group called the NSU had already murdered nine migrants and a police officer. Two of the members committed suicide before being arrested and the third was sentenced to life in prison.

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