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Ingolstadt - The gunman holding three hostages in Ingolstadt, southern Germany, on Monday is believed to have escaped from psychiatric care following a stalking conviction, a report said.
The 23-year-old suspect was sentenced to one year and eight months' probation in July for stalking a 25-year-old female town hall employee, the local Donau Kurier newspaper said.
A patient, believed to be the suspect, was missing from the city's Danvius psychiatric clinic, where the suspect had been undergoing psychiatric treatment since sentencing, the paper said.
The man went to the city's old town hall at about 9am (07.00 GMT), where he rounded up several people on the second floor.
Police are in contact with the hostage-taker, who is armed with a handgun. He has not issued any demands, an Ingolstadt police spokesman said.
A deputy mayor, Sepp Misslbeck, is believed to be one of the hostages.
Chancellor Angela Merkel had originally planned to hold a campaign rally in Ingolstadt later on Monday, but cancelled the event after the standoff began. It is unclear whether the incident was connected to her visit.
Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer, who had been scheduled to appear alongside the chancellor, said the safety of the hostages had “absolute priority.”
Ingolstadt, in Upper Bavaria, is a city of 125 000 best known as the headquarters of luxury carmaker Audi and as the place where the secret society the Illuminati was founded in 1776. - Sapa-dpa