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Blast, shooting leave 4 dead in Germany

Associated Press / September 20, 2010

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BERLIN — Four people died and a police officer was seriously wounded in a town in southwestern Germany yesterday after an explosion in an apartment building and a shooting in the neighboring hospital that authorities believe are linked, a prosecutor said.

Two people were found dead in an apartment building that burst into flames after the explosion, Dieter Inhofer, Loerrach prosecutor, told ZDF public television.

A woman, allegedly armed, was seen running from the blast into St. Elisabeth Hospital, where she reportedly opened fire, killing a member of the staff, Inhofer said.

The woman then turned her gun on officers responding to the shooting and was killed in an exchange of gunfire, Inhofer said. It was not immediately clear whether the woman was a patient at the hospital.

One police officer was seriously wounded, Inhofer said.

Police in the town of Loerrach, near the Swiss and French borders, are investigating. Authorities are still searching for a motive for the shooting.

The killings occurred as Germans debate whether to toughen controls on gun ownership. The process for obtaining a license for personal possession of a gun is relatively strict, but shootings by teenagers in schools over the past two years have led to calls for more safeguards.

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