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Two dead in Basel cafe shooting

March 10, 2017

Two people have been killed and one critically injured following a shootout in a cafe in Basel, Switzerland. The perpetrators of the 'local incident' remain at large, police said.

Café in Basel Zwei Tote und ein Schwerverletzter nach Schießerei
Image: Getty Images/AFP/S. Bozon

According to police, two men entered the premises and opened fire on guests at a cafe in Basel, Switzerland, on Thursday evening. Investigations are ongoing but a police officer said: "This is a local incident. It has nothing to do with Islamists or terrorism."

Authorities said they are searching for the shooters, who quickly fled the scene in the direction of the railway station. The Swiss city of Basel borders both France and Germany.

"Two men came into Cafe 56" at around 8.15 p.m. local time (1915 UTC) "and fired several rounds of shots," police said in a statement. "The reason behind the attack is not yet known and will be investigated."

Residents told the local "Basler Zeitung" newspaper that the establishment was once known for its links to the drug world, but had since cleaned up its image after changing owners several years ago.

Forensic officers were seen going in and out of the cafe and collecting evidence into the early hours of Friday morning.

Low crime rates despite high gun ownership

Gun crime is relatively infrequent in Switzerland, despite the country having one of the highest rates of firearm ownership in the world.

A controversial law allows residents to keep army-issued weapons at home outside periods of mandatory military services. That law has seen around 2 million weapons be held at home in a country of just 8 million people. Critics of the law point out that these weapons are sometimes used at home in domestic incidents.

Switzerland's last major firearms incident saw a man in military clothing shoot and injure police officers in the northeast of the country in January. The man opened fire as the officers searched his home for a suspected cannabis plantation. The man fled before being cornered by police. After a standoff lasting several hours, the man killed himself.

dm/se (AFP, dpa)