'Disturbed' masked man shot dead in Cinema hostage-taking

A masked man has been shot dead after entering a cinema in southwestern Germany with what appeared to be a rifle and taking several hostages, authorities say. No one else was hurt.

The armed man entered the Kinopolis cinema in the town of Viernheim in the early afternoon on Thursday and apparently fired a gun.

Initial reports suggested up to 50 people had been hurt but police say there were no injuries.

The man held several hostages but police have since confirmed there were no injuries. Photo: AP/YAHOO UK

The man held several hostages, police spokeswoman Christiane Kobus said, but she didn't have a precise number.

Officers "successively entered the cinema and were able to locate the man and the people he was holding," Kobus told The Associated Press.

"There was a threat situation and the man was then shot dead by a colleague."

Police said that the deployment lasted about three hours. There were no other injuries.

Photo: Getty

Kobus said she had no information on the assailant's identity and motives.

Another police spokesman, Bernd Hochstaedter, said that "there are no indications at present of an Islamist background."

Hesse state's interior minister, Peter Beuth, said it wasn't clear whether the weapon was functional, and police said they were still checking that.

Beuth told the regional legislature in Wiesbaden that the man had been masked and that apparently four shots were fired.

He also said the gunman appeared to have been a "disturbed man".

Photo: Getty

Nina Reininger, a prosecutor in nearby Darmstadt, said her office was investigating but she had no information so far on the attacker's identity.

The Kinopolis, a multiplex theatre, is located in a shopping mall in Viernheim, which is near the city of Mannheim.

The incident happened on a hot summer afternoon and the cinema appears to have been relatively empty at the time.

Cinema employee Guri Blakaj told Reuters the gunman, who appeared to be aged between 18 and 25 and was about 1.7 meters tall, entered the cinema at around 3 p.m. and told workers to get into an office.

He then went into a cinema theater. Blakaj, who said there were about six workers and 30 cinemagoers in the building, then heard shots fired.

Police special forces stormed the building and shot him.

There was still a heavy police presence at the scene into the late afternoon, and a helicopter circled overhead.