BERLIN (AP) — An anti-government extremist opened fire on police in southern Germany during a raid Wednesday in which they had planned to confiscate his weapons, wounding four officers, authorities said.
The 49-year-old German man had legally possessed more than 30 weapons for hunting, but local authorities had revoked his license because he appeared increasingly unreliable, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said.
He had previously refused to allow officials access to check his arsenal and take away the firearms.
The suspect opened fire on police as they entered the house in the Bavarian town of Georgensgmuend early Wednesday morning, Herrmann said. Two officers suffered gunshot wounds — one was in life-threatening condition and the other was shot in the arm. The other two were hit by flying glass.
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The shooter was overwhelmed by other officers and arrested. He suffered light injuries.
Authorities said the man, whom they didn’t identify, was a supporter of the Reich Citizens’ Movement, an extremist group that refuses to acknowledge the authority of the post-war Federal Republic of Germany. The group has been compared to the U.S. sovereign citizen movement.
A recent report by Berlin’s state intelligence service describes the Reich Citizens’ Movement as “an extremely diverse range of small groups and individuals who believe in an ideological mixture of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic views, and who have been behaving increasingly aggressively for some time.”
Herrmann said the movement has been under “intensive observation” by his state’s branch of the domestic intelligence agency because parts of it have “far-right aims” — though he said some members of the Reich movement aren’t necessarily extremists or potentially violent.
The group is mainly known for aggravating German authorities by pursuing obscure legal claims, not outright violence.
However, in August a member of the movement was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with officers in eastern Germany as he tried to prevent his eviction.
Federal Interior Ministry spokesman Tobias Plate said the movement is “fairly fragmented,” but that there is believed to be a “low three-figure number” of Reich extremists.
Frank Jordans contributed to this report.