Czech shooting: Gunman kills six at hospital in Ostrava

Armed police arrive at the scene of a shooting at a hospital in Ostrava, Czech Republic, 10 December 2019Image copyright

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Armed police at the scene of a shooting at the Ostrava teaching hospital in the Czech Republic

A gunman has killed six people in a hospital waiting room in the Czech city of Ostrava before shooting himself in the head, police say.

Armed police found the suspect dead from a self-inflicted gunshot in a nearby vehicle after the attack.

Officers said they were called to the hospital in the north-eastern city at 07:19 (06:19 GMT).

According to reports, the shooting took place at a trauma clinic. Part of the hospital was initially locked down.

A doctor inside the hospital told the Aktualne website that staff had been locked in a hallway waiting for the emergency to end.

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Patients and staff were evacuated from the hospital by the emergency services

Police earlier asked for help in their search for the gunman, but warned people not to approach him, adding that the site in the Moravian-Silesian Region had been “secured”.

The suspect had used a handgun and had driven off in a silver Renault Laguna car, according to police. They said they had established the 42-year-old man’s name, had photographs of him and had obtained his vehicle licence plate number.

Patrols were stepped up at what police described as soft targets, such as schools, shopping centres and other hospitals.

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Police initially posted an image of a man they said they needed to trace and said later he was the man behind the shooting.

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Czech police handout

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The man described by police as the gunman was shown wearing a red jacket

Prime Minister Andrej Babis confirmed that six people had been killed and that the shootings occurred at close range in a hospital waiting room.

“There were four dead and two injured people, who unfortunately died too,” Mr Babis told Czech media. Police later said an additional two people had been injured.

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The hospital in Ostrava is about 300km (190 miles) east of Prague

The governor of the Moravian-Silesian Region, Ivo Vondrak, said the shooting was “a great tragedy”.

The motive for the attack is not clear.

Police said that officers responding to reports of a shooting had arrived at the scene within five minutes. Two police helicopters were sent to the area to assist the search.

The hospital in Ostrava is about 300km (190 miles) east of Prague.

Gun attacks in the Czech Republic are rare, although gun ownership is relatively high for Europe because of the popularity of hunting.

In 2015, a man opened fire in a restaurant in the eastern town of Uhersky Brod killing eight people before turning the gun on himself.

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Last week, the Czech government lost a legal challenge to an EU law restricting private use of semi-automatic rifles. It was introduced by the European Union in 2017 after a spate of militant Islamist attacks in 2015.

The government in Prague said the law would do nothing to increase security.

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