Multiple people have died and several others are injured after a shooting in a church in Hamburg.
The Hamburg city government said the shooting took place at a Jehovah’s Witness church in the Gross Borstel district on Thursday evening.
“My deepest condolences to the families of the victims,” Hamburg mayor Peter Tschentscher wrote on Twitter in German on Thursday. “The emergency services are working flat out to track down the perpetrator(s) and to clarify the background.”
Police said the motive for the attack, which happened at around 9pm local time, is currently unclear.
“So far, there is no reliable information on the motive for the crime,” the Hamburg police said in a statement toThe Washington Post.
Newspaper Bild reported that seven people had been killed and eight more injured after the shooting, but the official death toll is yet to be confirmed by police.
Other local outlets have put the death toll at six.
Local police have “indications that a perpetrator may have been in the building and may be even among the dead,” according to the BBC.
“We have no indications of a perpetrator on the run,” officials told the broadcaster.
“We found a lifeless person in a community center in #GroßBorstel who we believe could be a perpetrator. In order to rule out the involvement of other perpetrators, we carry out checks and search extensively,” the Hamburg police department later wrote on Twitter in German.
Officials are still in the process of who was inside the church during the shooting, CNN reports, citing a government spokesperson.
Hamburg Police said on Twitter: “Several people were seriously injured, some even fatally. We are on site with a large contingent of forces.”
By coincidence, a unit of specialised armed police were already in the area when shooting broke out, Welt reported.
Police said they were alerted to the shooting about 9.15pm local time and were on the scene quickly. They said that after officers arrived, they heard a shot from an upper floor.
Emergency services are at the church and have been seen taking people out of the building.
NINAwarn, a federal warning app, sent an alert out at around 9pm (8pm GMT) saying: “One or more unknown perpetrators shot at people in a church”.
Residents nearby have been told not to leave their homes.
“It was about four firing periods. During these periods, several shots were always fired, approximately 20 seconds to one minute apart,” said shooting witness Lara Bauch, 23, according to The Guardian.
“I then looked further out of the window and saw a person running hectically from the ground floor to the first floor at the Jehovah’s Witnesses,” she added.
There are about 175,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses across Germany who practice in an estimated 900 Kingdom Halls, according to The New York Times.
Mass shootings are relatively rare in Germany, though the country has experienced killings in recent years in Hanau, Rom am See, and recently, a shooting in 2022 in which several people were injured by a gunman at a lecture theatre in the southwest German city of Heidelberg.