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CRIME

Police hold two over Bielefeld bank robbery

Two culprits were taken into police custody on Sunday after a violent bank robbery in Bielefeld left three employees injured.

Police hold two over Bielefeld bank robbery
Investigators at the scene of the crime. Photo: DPA

On Friday afternoon, two masked men armed with pistols forced their way into the Sparkasse bank branch and fired several shots.

Three employees of the branch suffered injuries during the siege after being "physically attacked" by the intruders, according to police reports.

As the two culprits were leaving the bank, one managed to escape the scene on foot before being caught and arrested by police shortly afterwards.

His accomplice remained at the scene while threatening police with his weapon, but a police officer managed to defuse the situation by shooting the robber in the leg. He was then taken to hospital under police guard.

Pistol on the ground after police shootout. Photo: DPA

The bag of money stolen from the bank was also recovered by police.

Two of the injured bank employees received treatment in hospital over the weekend, and a further co-worker who was unharmed is thought to have also sought treatment.

"It's not just about physical injuries, but also mental trauma," a police spokesman said.

Since the robbery on Friday local daily newspaper Neue Westfälische got hold of passers-by who witnessed how events unfolded.

Anja Vasvari, 47, was driving her taxi past the branch of the bank, when she realised that something wasn’t right.

When she saw the duo put on masks as they entered the building, she stopped and asked a delivery man on the street to call the police.

The man who was delivering packages further down the street, Gürkan Künkcü, 21, ended up even closer to the action. He drove his truck in front of the bank and stepped into the entrance.

"At first I couldn't believe it. As the glass doors opened, I caught a glimpse of one of the robbers, who was waving a gun around," said Künkcü to Neue Westfälische

The robber had an employee at gunpoint, and so Künkcü ran back outside and called the police.

Luckily it wasn’t then long before officers arrived to confront and catch the culprits. 

The Sparkasse branch in question. Photo: DPA

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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