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CRIME

Update: Police report end to hostage situation at Cologne’s Hauptbahnhof

German police said Monday that they had subdued and detained a man who took a woman hostage in a pharmacy in Cologne's central train station.

Update: Police report end to hostage situation at Cologne's Hauptbahnhof
A policeman from the special task force (SEK) standing in front of Cologne's Hauptbahnhof where a hostage situation was taking place. Photo: DPA

“The perpetrator is under control. Police measures are continuing,” Cologne police wrote on Twitter just after 3 pm after commandos had stormed the shop.

“A female hostage has been lightly wounded and is being cared for,” they added, calling on the public to keep their distance from the area.

The hostage taker also suffered injuries, a police spokesperson said, adding that the man's motives were not yet known.

Slightly after 4 p.m. police tweeted that the area around where the incident took place remains closed off.

Earlier Monday, eyewitnesses had reported hearing shots and possible smoke bombs being let off inside the massive station, which hosts many shops and cafes.

But police could not confirm any details as they rushed to evacuate the building.

Several heavily armed officers from a special response unit were seen immediately afterwards running across the Breslauer Platz square, on the opposite side of the tracks from the city's famous twin-spired cathedral.

Officers had later been in touch with the attacker to determine his demands and whether he was armed.

State rail operator Deutsche Bahn suspended all train traffic through Cologne, a major hub for rail travel through North Rhine-Westphalia state and nationwide.

Earlier the police also urged onlookers not to stream any videos at the scene and not to speculate. 

Police at the scene of Cologne Hauptbahnhof. Photo: DPA

The police also appealed on Twitter: “Please avoid this area.”

“Eye witnesses reported hearing shots, others spoke of smoke bombs, but we cannot confirm any of that so far,” a police spokesman told news channel NTV.

Cologne's Hauptbahnhof is one of the most important railway junctions on the Rhine, located in the city centre right next to the famous Cologne Cathedral, Germany's most visited attraction. Around 1,300 trains and up to 280,000 passengers pass through it every day on eleven tracks.

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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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