Hostage drama forces German chancellor to cancel rally
Agence France-Presse in Berlin
A hostage drama in Germany ended without fatalities yesterday, police said, after a tense nine-hour stand-off forced Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel to cancel a campaign rally in the same town.
A police operation ended the confrontation, leaving a 24-year-old hostage-taker slightly injured and his two remaining captives - including a woman he had been stalking - unharmed.
The man, a psychiatric patient who had carried either a real or imitation handgun, had entered the town hall of Ingolstadt north of Munich at about 9am, taking four hostages.
The man freed one female captive almost immediately, and a male hostage five hours later when he released the town's deputy mayor, Sepp Misslbeck.
More than 200 police had cordoned off the historic town centre of Ingolstadt, where campaign posters still advertised Merkel's cancelled campaign event ahead of September 22 national elections.
Police and a psychiatrist kept negotiating with the man, whose only demand was a doner kebab, through the afternoon.
News came shortly, after shots had been heard, that the drama had ended with the two remaining captives freed unharmed. The hostage-taker, who police said was slightly wounded, was taken away in an ambulance.
"It's a horrible situation," town Mayor Alfred Lehrmann had said earlier. " The staff were deeply dismayed and didn't know how to react ... it's a very bad day for Ingolstadt."
Lehmann said the man had a history of violent assault and intimidation, adding that the term stalker seemed too harmless.
The man was a former friend of the deputy mayor's receptionist who had been barred from contacting her by a court order but approached her anyway, local media reported.
Police arrested him last year and he was placed in psychiatric care. A trial that ended last month, with other unspecified charges, led to a suspended sentence of one year and eight months behind bars.