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Chancellor Merkel calls off campaign event due to hostage-taking

A hostage-taking in southern Germany has forced Chancellor Angela Merkel to call off a campaign event. Police said a man had taken a number of people hostage in a city hall.

The Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrats, announced that it had cancelled a planned campaign event in the city of Ingolstadt due to security concerns. The chancellor had been scheduled to join Bavaria's CSU premier, Horst Seehofer, at the event, which was to be held just outside of the town hall in the early evening.

Media reports say the hostage-taker is a 24-year-old man accused of stalking a female city employee. Speaking to reporters near the scene, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said a city worker, believed to be the woman in question, was one of the people taken hostage.

Police say they were in contact with the suspect and that he was armed with a hand gun. However, it wasn't clear whether the weapon was loaded or functional. So far, the gunman has issued no demands.

A deputy mayor being held hostage was released in the early afternoon. It was not immediately clear how many other people remained in the building.

A police spokesman ruled out any connection between the hostage-taking and the chancellor's now cancelled campaign event.

pfd/tj (dpa, AFP, Reuters)