German police arrested two suspects for the murder of two officers shot dead during a traffic stop after launching a massive manhunt, authorities confirmed on Monday evening.
The two officers, a man and a woman, were shot dead during a routine traffic check at around 04:20 on Monday on a road near Kusel, a town not far from Kaiserslautern in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
They were able to radio that shots were fired, spokesman Bernhard Christian Erfort told n-tv television.
Reinforcements were unable to help the officers — a 24-year-old woman and 29-year-old man — when they arrived.
Later Monday, police said they had arrested a suspect for whom they had put out a wanted notice.
The 38-year-old man from the region was apprehended in Sulzbach, about 37 kilometres from the scene of the shooting. Police said he didn't give any information on the case after his arrest around 17:00.
A second suspect, a 32-year-old man, was also detained on Monday.
Investigators said on Tuesday that the two men had been caught with hunting weapons and poached wild animals in their vehicle.
The search operation was extended to the neighbouring regional state of Saarland, not far from the French border, police said on Twitter.
“Regardless of the motive, this crime is reminiscent of an execution and shows that the police risk their lives for our security every day,” interior minister Nancy Faeser tweeted.
She said that “we will do everything” to catch the perpetrators.
According to the DPA news agency, the police officers sent a radio message shortly before they were killed, saying they had stopped a suspicious vehicle and found dead game in the boot.
Erfort said he didn't know whether the officers had seen something particular about the assailants' vehicle that they wanted to check or whether it was just a routine check.
The younger officer killed in Monday's incident was still studying at a police academy, the GdP police union said.
Fatal attacks on police are rare in Germany and Monday’s shooting near Kusel shocked officials, including Chancellor Olaf Scholz.