​Police shoot dead masked man who took hostages in German cinema complex in Viernheim, south of Frankfurt

German television showed pictures of heavily-armed police, wearing helmets and body armour, storming the Kinopolis complex in Viernheim, south of Frankfurt. (Getty)

German television showed pictures of heavily-armed police, wearing helmets and body armour, storming the Kinopolis complex in Viernheim, south of Frankfurt. (Getty)

A masked gunman took hostages at a cinema in western Germany on Thursday before police stormed the complex and shot him dead, police said.

No other people were injured, a police spokesperson said, despite earlier reports in the German media that between 20 and 50 people were hurt when the man opened fire in a cinema theatre. 

Police added that about 25 people were exposed to teargas, but were otherwise unharmed.

The attacker, who carried a rifle or “long gun”, acted alone and appeared to have been a “disturbed man”, the interior minister of Hesse state, Peter Beuth, told the regional parliament.

Police had not identified the man or established his motive, spokesperson Bernd Hochstaedter said, adding that nothing immediately pointed to him having a militant background.

German television showed pictures of heavily-armed police, wearing helmets and body armour, storming the Kinopolis complex in Viernheim, south of Frankfurt, and a couple fleeing the building.

Cinema employee Guri Blakaj told Reuters the gunman, who appeared to be aged between 18 and 25 and was about 1.7 metres tall, entered the cinema at around 3pm (local time) and told workers to get into an office.

He then went into a cinema theatre. 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 the gunman.

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

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