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Hostage Taker in Germany Surrenders

October 18, 2002

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WAIBLINGEN, Germany (AP) _ A teenage gunman seized four youngsters Friday at a school in southwestern Germany and demanded $1 million ransom. Hours later, he laid down his weapon and surrendered after freeing the hostages unharmed, police said.

The standoff at the school in Waiblingen, near Stuttgart, ended at about 9:20 p.m., a police spokesman said.

The hostage-taker had told police by cell phone he wanted $1 million and a getaway car, police said. About five hours after the standoff began, he freed two of the hostages. The final two were released two hours later.

About 100 students were in the Friedensschule, or Peace School, when a 16-year-old former student walked in and sat down in a second-floor computer room around 2:30 p.m., witnesses and police said. Minutes later, he stood up and pulled out a handgun, they said.

Students said he warned them to remain calm and then gave a mobile phone number to a teacher. He sent her and all but four students out of the room and made them close the curtains before calling police.

``He said, ’If you don’t keep quiet something will happen,‴ said Marc, an 11-year-old student.

Police spokesman Thomas Keller described the hostage-taker as making ``a calm impression″ while talking with police. He demanded cash and a getaway vehicle during negotiations, Keller said.

The hostages were sixth-graders, around 12 years old, he said.

``We will do everything we can to solve this peacefully, without using force. And for that negotiations with the suspect are needed,″ police spokesman Uwe Bieler told N24 television.

In April, a 19-year-old former student killed himself and 16 other people in an attack inside a school in Erfurt, in eastern Germany. Thirteen of the dead were teachers. In the outrage that followed, parliament passed a bill in June to tighten German gun laws.

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