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Austrian standoff ends, police find alleged shooter dead

A shootout between Austrian police and an alleged poacher has ended with the discovery of a body believed to be the suspect. He is thought to have killed three police officers and a paramedic.

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Austrian shootout ends

Police near the town of Melk, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Vienna, announced the end of an hours-long standoff outside of a farmhouse where a man, believed to be a poacher, had barricaded himself with a large amount of powerful weaponry. At least three policemen and an ambulance driver were killed in the day-long incident.

After several unsuccessful attempts to contact the 55-year-old man, police commandos besieged the house on Tuesday evening. A search of the property eventually led them to a secret hiding place where they found a charred body, according to local police.

Authorities were waiting for the results of a DNA analysis in order to identify the corpse, police spokesperson Roland Scherscher told news agency DPA, but said they believed they had found the perpetrator.

Public broadcaster ORF said that the suspect was a 55-year-old poacher wanted for repeatedly shooting deer and removing their heads, while leaving the rest of the body behind.

Late on Monday, Cobra police commandos attempted to search the suspect's vehicle, a move which prompted him to flee. He allegedly fatally shot one of the commandos when his car hit a ditch.

The suspect was then said to have withdrawn to the woods where he fatally shot an ambulance driver, before fleeing on foot and shooting at two more police officers, one of whom later died. The other was reported to have been taken hostage in a carjacking and subsequently found dead in his vehicle on Tuesday.

The provincial government of the state of Lower Austria ordered that black flags be flown from public buildings to honor the dead.

kms/jr (AFP, dpa)

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