In Germany, 8 people were shot and killed at a Jehovah's Witness center.
In Germany, 8 people were shot and killed at a Jehovah’s Witness center.© Images AGN

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called the shooting in a church a “brutal act of violence” and said he was thinking of the victims and their families.


Several more people were hurt in the attack on the Kingdom Hall building in the port city of Hamburg, where Jehovah’s Witnesses were having a religious service, on Thursday evening.

Police said Friday that eight people, including the suspected shooter, were killed in a shooting at a Jehovah’s Witnesses center in the German city of Hamburg. The reason for the attack is still unknown.

In a statement, Hamburg police said, “Eight people were killed, including the person who is thought to have done it.” They also said that several other people were hurt, “some seriously.”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz called it a “brutal act of violence” and said he was thinking about the people who were hurt and their families.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany association said it was “deeply saddened” by the horrible attack on its members.

Around 15:15 GMT, the first calls for help came in after shots were fired at the building in Gross Borstel, which is in the northern part of the city.

Around noon, Hamburg police will hold a press conference to give an update. Earlier, they said they were still trying to figure out why the attack happened.

“Right now, we don’t have any good information about why the crime was done,” the police said, asking people not to guess.

A disaster warning app in the area sounded an alarm about “extreme danger,” but the German Federal Office for Civil Protection turned it off shortly after 3 a.m. local time.

The mayor of the port city, Peter Tschentscher, said on Twitter that he was shocked by the shooting.

Police have asked witnesses to come forward and upload any photos or videos they may have to a special website.

Nancy Faeser, who is in charge of the Interior Ministry, said that investigators were “working flat out” to find out what led up to the attack.

Der Spiegel, a news magazine, said that the suspected attacker was a former Jehovah’s Witness who was not known to be an extremist.

The magazine didn’t say where it got its information, but it said he was between 30 and 40 years old and had a handgun.

Group for Bible study

The attack happened at the Jehovah’s Witnesses Kingdom Hall, a three-story building that didn’t look like much and where people had gathered for a religious service.

About 175,000 people in Germany are Jehovah’s Witnesses. 3,800 of them live in Hamburg. Jehovah’s Witnesses is a US Christian movement that started in the late 1800s. It preaches nonviolence and is known for going door-to-door to spread the word about Jesus.

Police say that when the first officers arrived, they found several dead bodies and people who were badly hurt.

The Hamburger Abendblatt said that the fire brigade was taking care of 17 people who had been at the event but were not hurt.

Police said that officers heard a gunshot in the “upper part of the building” and then found a body where the shot was fired.

In a tweet sent out early on Friday, police in Hamburg said they thought the body belonged to the person who did the killing.

Getting attacked

In the past few years, both jihadists and far-right extremists have carried out a number of attacks in Germany, which has been very scary.

In December 2016, Islamist extremists killed 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market when they drove a truck through the crowd. This was one of their most deadly acts.

The Tunisian who attacked was a failed asylum seeker who supported the jihadist group Islamic State.

The most populous country in Europe is still a target for jihadist groups, especially because it is part of the coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

From 2013 to 2021, the number of dangerous Islamists in the country grew by five, to 615, according to data from the interior ministry.

But in the past few years, Germany has also been attacked by people on the far right. This led to claims that the government wasn’t doing enough to stop neo-Nazi violence.

In Hanau, a city in central Germany, 10 people were shot and killed by a far-right extremist in February 2020. Five other people were hurt.

And on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in 2019, a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle, killing two people.

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