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German hostages in Ingolstadt town hall released

Three were taken hostage at the city hall in Bavaria's Ingolstadt, prior to a planned campaign visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a session at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on March 22, 2012 in Berlin. (MAURIZIO GAMBARINI/AFP/Getty Images)

A planned campaign trail visit by Chancellor Angela Merkel to the south German city of Ingolstadt was cancelled Monday after an armed man took three hostages at the local city hall.

The hostages have since been released, unharmed and the gunman was arrested, according to the BBC. Reports suggest the 24-year-old hostage taker was injured.

Earlier, police spokesman Guenther Beck told RT.com that the hostages were held on the second floor of the old city hall building. He said police were in contact with the hostage taker, thought to be a young man recently subject to a restraining order for stalking a woman who works there.

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The hostage taker did not make any demands, and the exact identity of both the gunman and the hostages remained unclear — although police later confirmed that deputy mayor Sepp Misslbeck was among them.

The incident began around 9:00 a.m., wrote the Associated Press. One of the hostages — Misslbeck — was released around 2:30 p.m., The Local reported

The remaining two hostages were said to be aides to Misslbeck, and one of them was the woman who had a restraining order against the gunman.

Although the hostage situation forced Merkel to call off a campaign event with the Bavarian Christian Social Union party, local police have ruled out any connection between the two events, according to Deutsche Welle. 

The German national elections are due to take place on September 22, and Merkel has taken to the campaign trail in an effort to shore up support for her Christian Democrats party. 

Ingolstadt has about 125,000 residents, and is best known as the hometown of Audi, the international car maker. The area around the town hall has been evacuated. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/130819/man-takes-hostages-at-germany-city-hall-prior-merkel-vis