We often hear of mass shootings in the US, but this latest tragedy is coming from Germany. At least eight people have been reported dead and several others injured in a shooting that took place in Hamburg on Thursday (March 9) night.
The shooting took place at a building occupied by Jehovah's Witnesses (a Christian sect).
So far, reports say that eight people have died of gunshot wounds and the gunman is among the dead. However, no official numbers have been released yet.
It is not yet known how severe the injuries are.
Police were alerted about shots being fired in the area at around 9 pm.
Witnesses heard several rounds of shots go off.
…there were about four periods of shooting. There were always several shots in these periods, roughly at intervals of 20 seconds to a minute…
- Witness Laura Bauch (AP)
What do the police know so far?
The police are investigating the crime scene. However, the motive behind the shooting is not yet known.
The police also don't know what event was taking place at the building on the night of the shooting.
Gun laws in Germany:
Unlike the US, gun laws in Germany are tough. And after last year's investigation found a coup attempt by a far-right group, the country has planned to make the laws even stricter.
And so, the shooting comes as a surprise.
In Germany, people need to possess a weapons possession card (Waffenbesitzkarte) to own or buy a firearm.
But this is only useful for collectors. Those with a weapons possession card can only "transport" a firearm, meaning the gun has to be unloaded and carried inside a locked case when out in the public.
Hunters are given separate hunting licenses and guns can only be used for hunting game.
In rare cases, people who can prove that their life is in danger in public spaces and need to carry a gun in person, either loaded or concealed, have to get a weapons license (Waffenschein).
There have been a few incidents of fatal mass shootings in Germany. In 2020, nine people were shot dead by a far-right gunman, who also killed himself and his mother.
In 2019, a gunman killed two people outside a synagogue. And in 2016, a Tunisian man and ISIS supporter drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin killing 12 people.
Who are the Jehovah's Witnesses?
Jehovah's Witness adheres to a "form of Christianity that Jesus taught and that his apostles practiced".
They basically believe that Jehovah, the Creator is God. He is considered the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus.
They often go door-to-door distributing Christian literature. They also refuse to bear arms, receive blood transfusions, salute a national flag or participate in a secular government.
They form part of an international church founded in the 19th century in the US. It boasts a worldwide membership of about 8.7 million.
In India too there are members of the community. Famously, Supreme Court upheld the beliefs of three school children from Kerala, who were suspended for refusing to sing the national anthem.