Hostage Situation: Merkel Campaign Speech Cancelled

Photo Gallery: Merkel Rally Cancelled Due to Hostage-Taking Photos
DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel was forced to cancel acampaignspeech in Ingolstadt after a convicted stalker took three people hostage in the town hall facing the square where she was due to speak. Police freed the hostages after about nine hours.

An armed man took three people hostage in the town hall of the southern German city of Ingolstadt on Monday, forcing Chancellor Angela Merkel to cancel an election campaign speech she was due to hold on the square outside the building.

The 24-year-old man had a conviction for stalking a woman who works in the town hall, and there was a court order banning him from entering her place of work. She was among the hostages, along with another man. The third hostage, deputy mayor Sepp Misslbeck, was released on Monday afternoon after five hours, following negotiations with police.

Police freed the two remaining hostages in the early evening after overpowering the man. Eyewitnesses reported hearing four shots. The man was wounded but is alive, police said.

The man, who had reportedly been receiving psychiatric treatment, entered the building shortly before 9 a.m. and headed straight for the woman's office, police said. He was believed to have been armed with a pistol but it's not known if the gun was real.

It wasn't clear what the man's demands were. "The term stalker seems something of an understatement given that he has a whole list of previous convictions that go far beyond what one calls stalking," said Ingolstadt mayor Alfred Lehmann. The man had convictions for causing bodily harm and threatening behavior, he added.

Over 200 police officers including a SWAT team surrounded the building in the Bavarian city, where Merkel had been scheduled to address a campaign rally at 5 p.m. together with state governor Horst Seehofer.

Police said they didn't believe there was any connection between the political event and the hostage taking.

cro -- with wire reports

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