Major police operation under way amid shopping centre evacuation and unconfirmed reports of shootings elsewhere in city.
Munich is in lockdown after a gunman opened fire at a shopping centre, reportedly killing at least six people and injuring several others, amid police warnings that one or more attackers may be on the loose in the city.
The violence began just before 6pm, when a man opened fire at a branch of McDonald’s outside the Olympia shopping centre, police said.
Video apparently shot outside the restaurant and shared on social media showed passersby fleeing in terror as a man holding a pistol calmly and indiscriminately opened fire.
“We believe this is a shooting rampage,” a police spokesman said. He did not have any details on the identity or motive of the gunman.
Police warned people in the Bavarian state capital to stay away from public places, amid fears that one or more armed people might still be on the run. Unconfirmed reports of shootings in at least three other places sparked panic across Munich.
All trains and public transport within and leading into and out of the city have been diverted and the city has been closed to traffic.
Police and ambulance crews were on site within minutes of receiving an emergency call at around 6pm. At least one attacker is believed to have fled the shopping centre and headed for a nearby U-Bahn station.
Witnesses reported hearing shots inside and outside the mall, known locally as the OEZ. “I was shopping when I heard three shots, then we ran out and about 40 seconds later we heard five shots from outside,” said Florian Horn, aged 33.
There were unconfirmed reports of shooting in central Karlsplatz, with taxi drivers urged not to pick up any passengers in the area, and reports of panic in the city’s historic heart, Marienplatz.
The police spokeswoman Claudia Kuenzel told the Associated Press there were “several dead and wounded” at the shopping centre but could not provide exact numbers.
“The shooter or shooters are still on the run” either in or around the mall, she said.
Shopping centre staff were still in hiding more than an hour after the attack, an employee told Reuters by telephone. “Many shots were fired, I can’t say how many but it’s been a lot,” the employee, who declined to be identified, said.
“All the people from outside came streaming into the store and I only saw one person on the ground who was so severely injured that he definitely didn’t survive. We have no further information, we’re just staying in the back in the storage rooms. No police have approached us yet.”
Cansu Muyan, who lives near the shopping centre said she had been inside with her sister when the attack began. “I suddenly saw everyone running past. Then a shopkeeper told us all to leave as quickly as possible so we all started running as well,” she said.
A man was weeping nearby, terrified because he could not reach his daughter who had been inside the centre at the time of the shooting.
A man who worked at a nearby petrol station said there had been chaos outside the centre. “We see just ambulances and firemen and police but all this area is evacuated, all the streets,” he told the BBC.
“Now [there] are no cars, just on the side of the streets. All of the streets are blocked. I see that the people are scared. Everybody are running around.”
One entrance into the centre comes direct from a subway, and shoppers milling around outside the building after it was evacuated said they thought the gunman may have entered that way before leaving by a second exit.
The Olympia shopping centre is a two-tiered, glass-covered mall that was built on the site of the 1972 Olympics. The Munich Games were overshadowed by a terrorist attack in which 11 Israeli sportsmen and a German policeman were killed after being taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists.
It is the second attack in Bavaria in less than a week. Security forces have been on high alert after a teenage refugee attacked train passengers near the city of Würzburg with an axe and a knife, leaving two people in intensive care.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the train attack, but authorities have said the teen likely acted alone.
The British Foreign Office has issued an alert warning British citizens in Munich to follow the instructions of the authorities. “You are advised to avoid this location and follow the advice of local authorities,” it said in updated travel advice on Germany.