Gunman kills parents and four others in Germany

German forensic policemen walk near a house where a shooter killed six people in Rot am See in southwestern Germany. (AFP)
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Updated 24 January 2020

Gunman kills parents and four others in Germany

  • The shooter launched the attack in the town of Rot am See near Heidelberg
  • Police have been able to confirm that two of the dead were the suspect’s father and mother

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany: A 26-year-old man is believed to have shot dead his mother and father and four other people in a town in southwest Germany on Friday, police said, leaving two others seriously wounded.
The suspect “called the police station in (nearby town) Aalen at 12:48 p.m. (1148 GMT) to inform them he had shot several people,” police chief Reiner Moeller told reporters in a press conference hours after the killings in Rot am See, near Baden-Wuerttemberg state capital Stuttgart.
The young man stayed on the line, and when the first officers arrived minutes later at the hotel where the shooting took place, they immediately arrested him outside.
“They were then able to identify six dead people both inside and behind the building,” Moeller said, including three men aged 36, 65 and 69 and three women aged 36, 56 and 62.
Images from the scene showed large numbers of emergency vehicles and heavily armed officers sealing off the area with red and white police tape.
Meanwhile forensics teams dressed in white coveralls moved in to secure evidence.
Two survivors of the attack are receiving medical treatment, with one of them “in danger for his life,” police chief Moeller said.
The shooter had also threatened two children aged 12 and 15, leaving them shaken but unharmed.
Investigators have so far been unable to discover anything about the motive of the suspect, saying he would be questioned only when his lawyer arrived at the police station.
So far the police have been able to confirm only that two of the dead were the suspect’s father and mother.
“We are still clarifying the other relationships” between the group, Moeller said.
The perpetrator himself, a German citizen, lived in the hotel along with some of the victims, near the station in the town of 5,200 people.
German media had earlier reported that the group had met in the hotel for a family gathering, but police have so far been unable to confirm this.
Investigators say the crime was committed with a semi-automatic handgun, for which the suspect held a license for sport shooting.
The weapon was found inside the building after officers arrested the 26-year-old man.
While owning firearms is not illegal in Germany, most guns can be acquired only with a license and they are closely monitored, making mass shootings comparatively rare.
In October last year, a far-right attacker shot two people dead in the eastern city Halle, wounding several more after failing to break into a packed synagogue armed with home-made weapons.
In July 2016, a teenager used a pistol bought illegally online to kill nine people in a Munich shopping center, before turning the weapon on himself.
Germany has also been the target of a number of jihadist attacks in recent years, although most of the perpetrators did not use guns.
The most deadly took place in December 2016, when Tunisian Anis Amri drove an articulated truck into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people.


Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

A municipal worker sprays disinfectant on an ambulance in Atulugama on March 29, 2020, after the town was sealed off by health authorities following fears that it could be a cluster for COVID-19 infection after two positive cases. (AFP)
Updated 30 min 9 sec ago

Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

  • Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival

COLOMBO: To help its overseas migrant workers deal with the coronavirus, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has launched an online portal where citizens can voice their concerns, officials said on Sunday.

“All Sri Lankans living abroad were invited to register voluntarily on the platform . . . allowing the government to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as the Covid-19 outbreak. This platform will allow the ministry to access real-time data for quick action,” an official from the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Since its launch on March 26, the “Contact Sri Lanka” portal has seen 17,000 registrations, with several saying they want to return home as soon as possible.

“A bulk of the 700 inquiries received through the portal relate to the possibility of a return to the country,” excerpts from a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and made available to Arab News, read on Sunday.

Registration by residents in the country will also allow the ministry to propose concrete policy decisions in critical response situations, such as evacuation measures, depending on the number of emergency assistance requests generated, the statement said.

It added that establishment of the portal was based on a “call made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for coordinated efforts by all government stakeholders to fight the Covid-19 outbreak and to harness digital technology to prompt faster and more efficient service delivery.”

Deputy General Manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) W. Leelaratne told Arab News that Sri Lankan employees, particularly at missions in the Middle East and Asia, would be working with host governments “to secure fair treatment and concessions for expatriate workers to the maximum extent possible.”

“This includes safeguarding the rights of the workers related to the payment of salaries and ensuring job security, ” he said.

Leelaratne said that due to the current global situation; the SLBFE has opened a 24/7 help desk for all migrant workers who could seek assistance by contacting the hotline.

Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival.

Dr. Anil Jasinghe, director general of Health Services, said that the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 110 with the detection of four new cases on Sunday.

Two of the four cases were arrivals from the south Indian city of Chennai, with Jasinghe saying that the government had requested all those flying in from Chennai to report to the nearest health facility for mandatory quarantine arrangements.

As an additional measure, the villages of Atulugama, Akurana and Kadayankulam have been placed under lockdown, while the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam and Jaffna have been declared high-risk zones with a full-day curfew to continue in these areas until further notice.