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Cologne hostage situation: Suspect and female hostage injured as German police end train station stand-off

Suspect in intensive care after injuring two bystanders as police stormed pharmacy

Lizzie Dearden
Security Correspondent
,Chris Baynes
Monday 15 October 2018 14:00 BST
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Train station in German city of Cologne closed after hostage taking 1

German police stormed a pharmacy in Cologne’s main train station to free a woman who had been held hostage by a man for two hours.

The suspect, believed to be a 55-year-old Syrian, suffered life-threatening injuries during an operation to rescue the captive, who was slightly hurt and treated at the scene.

Moments before taking the woman hostage on Monday, the man lit a Molotov cocktail inside a station restaurant, injuring a 14-year-old girl. The teenager was taken to hospital with burns and another woman was treated for smoke inhalation.

Police evacuated the station, one of the biggest in the country, before raiding the pharmacy. Detectives said the hostage-taker's motives were unclear and a terror attack could not be ruled out.

"Witnesses told us that the attacker said he belonged to the Islamic State group as he was entering the restaurant, but we cannot confirm this," said Cologne police marshal Klaus Rueschenschmidt.

The suspect underwent surgery on critical injuries, including gunshot wounds, on Monday night.

“The culprit was seriously injured during the access operation and is currently being resuscitated,” a police spokesman said. “A female hostage is lightly wounded and being treated”.

Police officers at Cologne railway station in Germany during a hostage situation on 15 October (AFP/Getty Images)

The railway station is a busy hub for trains across Germany and Europe and is located next to Cologne's cathedral, a popular tourist attraction.

Investigators said they found gas cartridges inside the pharmacy's store room and an ID card for a man known to police for theft, fraud and drug offences.

Police said the card likely belonged to the suspect, but they did not name him.

“The background to the hostage-taking is currently unclear. We are pursuing all avenues of investigation," a police statement said.

During negotiations over the hostage, the suspect asked for the release of a Tunisian woman and demanded to be allowed to leave the train station unimpeded, Mr Rueschenschmidt told reporters.

Police appealed for people to wait for official information rather than spreading “rumours and speculation”.

Photos showed armed police officers at the scene, as thousands of passengers and employees were moved out of the station.

All trains was stopped, leading to delays and cancellations across western Germany. The station was reopened on Monday night.

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