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CRIME

Police criticized for reaction to brutal rape of jogger in Leipzig park

The mayor of Leipzig has condemned his police force for suggesting women run in twos after a jogger was raped in one of the city’s parks on Friday.

Police criticized for reaction to brutal rape of jogger in Leipzig park
Rosental park in Leipzig. Photo: DPA

A woman in her 50s reported being dragged to the ground as she went running in the popular Rosental park on Friday morning. Her attacker then dragged her into a field and raped her, police report.

During the assault he kicked and punched the women so hard in her face that she had to undergo emergency surgery after she was found.

Leipzig police responded to the crime by telling a local newspaper that “it would be better if women jogged in pairs, or at the least that they make sure that there is always someone else around.”

“When they run past someone, joggers should always look back to make sure they are not about to be attacked,” the police spokesperson advised.

It was the first time that a sexual assault of such brutality had happened in Leipzig for a long time, police added.

The police response to the rape met with immediate anger in the German media. Bild asked on Monday why police encouraged women to reduce their personal freedoms rather than assuring them that they would be protected.

On Monday Leipzig mayor Burkhard Jung joined the chorus of criticism, saying that “the state’s answer to this terrible incident and to previous such incidents must be to put more police on the streets and in the parks – I have been calling for this for years.”

“We all want to live in a city in which it is self-evident that women can go jogging alone in the park, a city in which everyone is safe,” he told Bild. “We clearly need a more visible police force for that.”

Police are still searching for the suspected rapist, who they describe as being of “southern” appearance, with dark hair, a short beard, and aged between 25 and 35. He was wearing grey knee-length trousers and a blue-green chequered shirt.

Police are also investigating whether he is linked to two sexual assaults which took place recently in the same area.

CRIME

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

A 21-year-old gunman opened fire at a secondary school in northern Germany on Thursday, badly injuring a female member of staff before being arrested, police said.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The incident happened at the Lloyd Gymnasium school in the centre of Bremerhaven, a city on Germany’s North Sea coast, on Thursday morning. 

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” police said in a statement. The injured woman was not a pupil, police said.

They said the suspect had entered the school building and fired at a female member of staff, who was “seriously injured”.

The alarm was quickly raised and police said they detained the suspect at a nearby location soon after and had seized his weapon at the scene.

The injured woman is being treated in hospital.

A video circulating on social media and German news sites appeared to capture the moment the gunman was arrested.

A man dressed in black is seen lying face down on a street corner, with a weapon next to him, before being handcuffed by officers.

But there was no immediate confirmation of reports the alleged weapon was a crossbow.

Bremerhaven police tweeted in the morning that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Local news site Nord24 said a school pupil had heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

Police launched a large-scale operation and cordoned off the area around the school while they carried out inquiries. 

By mid-afternoon, police said special forces had completed their search and the last people had left the building.

Authorities set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents had gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children.

Pupils and staff are receiving psychological counselling.

Local media said only around 200 people were on the school grounds, fewer than normal because of exam times.

In a separate incident on Thursday, police in the eastern city of Leipzig said they had detained a 21-year-old student still at secondary school after being tipped off by Snapchat that he had posted pictures of himself with a gun and made unspecified threats.

The US social media platform alerted German authorities, prompting Leipzig police to take action.

 A police spokesman said that the 21-year-old did not pose a real threat, however, and only possessed an airsoft gun, a replica firearm that uses non-lethal, usually plastic, pellets.

‘Strict gun laws’

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and
injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passers-by in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The gunman then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people including 12 teachers and two students at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He too then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone under 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.

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