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CRIME

German police probe mysterious letter-bomb attacks on food firms

Investigators in Germany are probing a mysterious string of letter-bomb attacks on German food retail companies in recent days.

German police probe mysterious letter-bomb attacks on food firms
Lidl's headquarters in Neckarsulm, Baden-Württemberg. Photo: DPA

“We assume there is a connection,” said state prosecutors in Heidelberg in a statement after a string of mysterious attacks on a supermarket chain, a drinks company and a baby food producer earlier this week.

Further attacks were “not likely” but “could not be ruled out entirely”, they added.

Prosecutors announced Thursday the launch of a 100-person special commission to investigate the attacks.

They also confirmed that an explosive had been identified and disarmed at a parcel distribution centre at Munich airport on Wednesday night.

The parcel, which was addressed to the Bavaria-based baby food company Hipp, was the third such attack in a matter of days.

On Wednesday, three people were taken to hospital when a letter bomb exploded at the German headquarters of discount supermarket Lidl.

Around 100 people were evacuated from the administrative building at the company's head offices in Neckarsulm, western Germany.

A similar explosion was also reported in nearby Eppelheim at the Wild drinks company, whose products include Capri-Sun brand.

According to national news agency DPA, Germany's food federation had also warned its members to remain vigilant when receiving post.

READ ALSO: Three injured in explosions at Lidl's German headquarters

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CRIME

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

One person was injured on Thursday when shots were fired in a school in the northern German city of Bremerhaven, police said, adding that they had arrested the suspected gunman.

One injured in school shooting in Bremerhaven

The shooting 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 person was not a pupil, police said, adding that the person been taken to hospital.

“Students are in their classrooms with their teachers. The police have the situation on the ground under control,” the statement added.

Bremerhaven police tweeted 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 reported that a school pupil heard shots being fired and called the police. Pupils reportedly barricaded themselves in their classrooms.

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

Authorities have set up a phone hotline for concerned parents. Many parents gathered in front of the school after being alerted by their children, local media reported. 

‘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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