Hostages freed in Ingolstadt City Hall drama ahead of Merkel visit

Hostages freed in Ingolstadt City Hall drama ahead of Merkel visit
German special forces have freed the hostages held by an armed man inside the City Hall of the Bavarian city of Ingolstadt. Chancellor Angela Merkel canceled her visit to the city for a planned election rally in the wake of the hostage-taking.

“No hostages were injured during the rescue operation. The gunman sustained injuries, but is alive,” a local police source told RIA Novosti.

Police spokesman Guenther Beck said the hostages were held on the second floor of the city hall and that they were in contact with the hostage-taker.

Third mayor of Ingolstadt, Sepp Misslbeck, was among the hostages, but was later released by his captor. The gunman kept holding two hostages — a man and a woman — until the Special Forces intervened. 

The hostage-taker was said to be armed and the area around the building has been evacuated as a precautionary measure. However, it was not immediately clear if the gun was real. Police were said to be in contact with the captor but have refrained from commenting on his possible motives and demands.  

German paper Donaukurier wrote that the perpetrator might have been a 23-year-old man who was issued with a restraining order for stalking a 25-year-old-woman working at the city hall. Reports say that the hostage-taker had been receiving psychiatric help.

Germany will hold national election on September 22 and Merkel was due in the city for a campaign rally this afternoon.

Police armoured vehicles stand in a side street during a hostage situation, in Ingolstadt August 19, 2013. (Reuters/Michael Dalder)

Emergency vehicles stand in a cordoned off street in front of the town hall (background) during a hostage situation in Ingolstadt August 19, 2013. (Reuters/Michael Dalder)