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German hostage-taker escaped psych clinic

19 August 2013, 18:00

Ingolstadt - A gunman holding three hostages in Ingolstadt, southern Germany, on Monday is believed to have escaped from psychiatric care following a stalking conviction, a report said.

The 23-year-old suspect was sentenced to one year and eight months' probation in July for stalking a 25-year-old female town hall employee, the local Donau Kurier newspaper said.

A patient, believed to be the suspect, was missing from the city's Danvius psychiatric clinic, where the suspect had been undergoing psychiatric treatment since sentencing, the paper said.

The man went to the city's old town hall at about 09:00 (0700 GMT), where he rounded up several people on the second floor.

Police are in contact with the hostage-taker, who is armed with a handgun. He has not issued any demands, an Ingolstadt police spokesperson said.

A deputy mayor, Sepp Misslbeck, is believed to be one of the hostages.

Merkel rally cancelled

The hostage-taking happened several hours before  Chancellor Angela Merkel was due in the city for a late afternoon rally that was to take place on the square in front of the city hall. Germany holds national elections on 22 September, and Bavaria votes in a state election a week earlier.

There was no indication of any connection between the visit and the hostage-taking. However, Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union said it decided to cancel the rally.

Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer, who had been scheduled to appear alongside the chancellor, said the safety of the hostages had "absolute priority".

The old city hall, one of two city halls in Ingolstadt, dates back to the 14th century, though the building was expanded in the 19th century. It is home to the mayor's office and the city's tourist information office, among other administrative departments.

Ingolstadt is located some 70km north of Munich and has about 125 000 inhabitants.



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