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Teen kills 15 in attack on school in Germany

A 17-YEAR-OLD gunman dressed in black opened fire inside his former high school in southwestern Germany yesterday, killing 15 people before he turned the gun on himself, authorities said.

The gunman entered the school in Winnenden at 9:33am after classes had begun and opened fire, shooting at random, police said.

He killed nine students, three teachers and a passer-by outside the building, officials said. Two other people were killed later.

"He went into the school with a weapon and carried out a bloodbath," said regional police chief Erwin Hetger. "I've never seen anything like this in my life."

Triggering a land and air manhunt, the gunman hijacked a car and forced the driver to head south, sitting in the back seat, said Stuttgart prosecutors.

When the driver swerved off the road to avoid a police checkpoint, he managed to escape and the gunman, identified only as Tim K., ran into an industrial area in the town of Wendlingen with police in pursuit.

There he entered an auto dealership, shooting and killing a salesman and a customer, and then went back outside.

"In front of the auto dealership the young man then opened fire toward the many police vehicles," prosecutors said. "A gunbattle ensued between the 17-year-old and police involved in the pursuit of him. According to our current information, the gunman then shot himself."

Two police officers suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Police said the German teen graduated last year from the school of about 1,000 students.

No motive has been identified. The victims were primarily female.

In their hunt for the gunman, police searched his parents' home in a nearby town. The gunman's father, who is a member of a local gun club, had 16 firearms, one of which was missing.

Police said the weapon used in the attack was a high-caliber pistol.

The death toll was close to that of Germany's worst school shooting.

In 2002, 19-year-old Robert Steinhaeuser shot and killed 12 teachers, a secretary, two students and a police officer before turning his gun on himself in the Gutenberg high school in Erfurt in eastern Germany.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel called the shooting a horrific crime. "It is hard to put into words what happened today, but our sadness and sympathy goes out to the victims' families," Merkel said at a news conference.


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