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Hamburg airport hostage suspect did not have weapons permit

Heavily armed special police forces prepare for an operation at the airport, in Hamburg, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023.
Heavily armed special police forces prepare for an operation at the airport, in Hamburg, Germany, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023. Copyright Bodo Marks/(c) Copyright 2023, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
Copyright Bodo Marks/(c) Copyright 2023, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
By Euronews with AP
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An armed man who drove onto the tarmac at Hamburg Airport with his 4-year-old daughter on Saturday did not have a weapons permit and was driving a rental car.

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A man who drove onto the tarmac at Hamburg Airport with his 4-year-old daughter, starting an 18-hour stand-off with police that ended with his arrest, was using a rental car and lacked a weapons permit.

Operations at the airport returned to normal on Monday after the lengthy closure caused by the hostage situation, and the airport operator signalled that it would strengthen security.

The 35-year-old Turkish citizen broke through an airport gate on Saturday evening, fired into the air and threw two incendiary devices out of the car, according to witnesses, before parking the vehicle under a plane just outside a terminal building.

He had reportedly taken his daughter from her mother in Stade, some 52 kilometres from Hamburg, in an ongoing custody battle, and was already under investigation for allegedly kidnapping his daughter and taking her to Turkey without authorisation last year.

Stade police spokesperson Rainer Bohmbach said that the vehicle used at the airport was a rental car, German media reported. He said it wasn't known whether he worked for a car rental company, but that was unlikely.

The suspect has no weapons permit, said Liddy Oechtering, a spokesperson for Hamburg prosecutors. She said they would seek to have him kept in custody on suspicion of hostage-taking, removal of a minor and offences under weapons laws.

The airport operator said that it will “implement further construction measures to strengthen possible entry points to the security area,” local sources reported. It didn't give specific details.

“German airports are fundamentally very safe,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz's spokesperson, Steffen Hebestreit, told reporters in Berlin. But “what we have now seen in Hamburg shows that time and again there are gaps in the concept, and that someone with high criminal energy who apparently is also very desperate can manage to use such gaps.”

“It is also clear that no concept is so good that it can't be made even better,” he said.

Second shooting in Hamburg this year

In March, eight people were killed and several others injured after a man opened fire at a Jehovah’s Witnesses church. The perpetrator was among the victims and the incident was not treated as a terrorist attack.

Police in Germany are facing mounting scrutiny after details emerged that authorities had been tipped off about the gunman and the incident sparked a debate on the country's gun laws.

More and more Germans applying for gun licences

According to a 2019 newspaper article, more and more Germans are acquiring the permit they need to carry a gas pistol, a number that has more than doubled since 2014.

Experts have warned that they closely resemble real firearms and can still be lethal at very close range, and also warned against potential problems created by the abundance of alarm pistols on the streets and that these only create a "false sense of security."

The newspaper, which compiled the data from interior ministries from all 16 German states, said that some 5.4 million real firearms were owned privately in Germany in 2018, some 27,000 more than the year before. These were mostly rifles, rather than handguns.

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