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German Movie Theatre Attack Leaves Gunman Dead

Security forces rushed to the scene after a masked man opened fire at a cinema complex.

24/06/2016 12:43 AM AEST | Updated 24/06/2016 3:21 AM AEST
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Policemen stand near a cinema where an armed man barricaded himself in Viernheim, southern Germany, on June 23, 2016.

A masked gunman is dead after he opened fire Thursday inside a movie theatre in the small German town of Viernheim, near Frankfurt.

The suspect was shot after elite forces in helmets and body armor stormed the complex, according to Interior Minister Peter Beuth. The gunman carried a weapon -- that possibly only fired blanks -- and an ammunition belt, Beuth said.

Initial police reports state that the armed man was operating alone and does not have terrorist ties, Focus reported. The man was described as disturbed.

Bild daily said that according to police about 25 people had been exposed to tear gas.

BORIS ROESSLER/Getty Images
Police forces stand in front of a cinema where an armed man barricaded himself in Viernheim.

The theater is part of the Rhein-Neckar-Zentrum shopping center, one of the largest in the Rhein-Neckar region of Germany. Some 23,000 people shop at this collection of 110 shops each day, according to the mall's website. The theater was showing a number of movies during the day, including The Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland and Central Intelligence.

There are some 25 million civilian-owned guns in Germany, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. All German gun owners are required to store weapons in a locked safe, and if door-to-door inspectors find unlocked weapons, owners "could lose their guns, be fined, or go to jail," NPR has reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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