German suspect in pope visit shooting released: police

25th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

A man detained for firing shots from an air gun about one kilometre (1,000 yards) from where Pope Benedict XVI was to celebrate mass in Germany has been released, police said Sunday.

The incident sparked a minor security scare in the eastern city of Erfurt Saturday two hours before the 84-year-old pontiff was to deliver a sermon to 28,000, on the third day of a first state visit to his native Germany.

A police spokesman said the 30-year-old suspect from Berlin admitted to firing four shots from an air gun at guards working for security firm deployed for the visit and was later released.

A female guard was hit in the leg with a shot but uninjured.

Media reports said the man had been annoyed with tough security measures during the pontiff's stay, when residents were told to keep their windows shut and a large part of the city centre was closed.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said it was "an incident that had nothing to do with the pope" and that Benedict was not informed.

Security for the four-day visit has been extremely tight. Large parts of Berlin, Erfurt and the southwestern city of Freiburg where the pope celebrated mass before 100,000 Sunday have faced a police lockdown.

© 2011 AFP

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