German police were investigating on Friday a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witnesses centre in Hamburg that killed several people, with the gunman believed to be among the dead.
Police have not given a death toll, but multiple local media outlets reported that the shooting on Thursday evening had left seven dead and eight seriously injured.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the “brutal act of violence” and said his thoughts were with the victims and their loved ones.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany association said it was “deeply saddened by the horrific attack on its members” after a religious service at the Kingdom Hall in Hamburg.
The first emergency calls were made around 2015 GMT after shots rang out at the building in the city’s northern district of Gross Borstel, a police spokesman at the scene said.
Police tweeted that “several people were seriously injured, some even fatally” in the incident.
“At the moment there is no reliable information on the motive of the crime,” police said, urging people not to speculate.
An alarm for “extreme danger” in the area was sounded using a catastrophe warning app, but Germany’s Federal Office for Civil Protection lifted it shortly after 3:00 am local time.
Hamburg police tweeted early Friday: “The police measures in the surrounding area are gradually being discontinued. Investigations into the background of the crime are continuing.”
The port city’s mayor, Peter Tschentscher, expressed shock at the shooting on Twitter.
The attack took place at the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall building, a non-descript, three-storey building where members had gathered for a religious service.
There are about 175,000 people in Germany, including 3,800 in Hamburg, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, a US Christian movement set up in the late 19th century that preaches non-violence and is known for door-to-door evangelism.
Germany has been rocked by several attacks in recent years, both by jihadists and far-right extremists.
Among the deadliest committed by Islamist extremists was a truck rampage at a Berlin Christmas market in December 2016 that killed 12 people.
In February 2020, a far-right extremist shot dead 10 people and wounded five others in the central German city of Hanau.
And in 2019, two people were killed after a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.