Special forces prevent mass casualties in Germany

A MASKED and armed man was shot dead by police after taking hostages in a cinema in a small town in Germany.

Local media said he was seen carrying a gun and wearing an ammunition belt, and had fired his gun into the air four times as he entered.

Reports said he took dozens of people hostage on Thursday inside the Kinopolis multiplex in a shopping mall in Viernheim, near Frankfurt, before special forces rushed into the complex.

Police said none of the hostages was injured in the attack. Investigations were continuing and the assailant's identity and motive were yet to be confirmed.