German police stop planned killing spree in school

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COLOGNE, Germany, Nov 18 (Reuters) German police said today they had prevented a planned killing spree by two teenage pupils in a school in the western city of Cologne.

Local police said the two youths, aged 17 and 18, aimed to ''kill and injure'' people at their secondary school on Tuesday and then commit suicide exactly a year after an attack by a gunman on a school in a town north of Cologne.

The motive for the planned attack was not clear and police said initial searches had uncovered only two crossbows and air guns at the youths' homes. The guns were not deadly, they said.

The younger of the two suspects committed suicide on Friday, while the second had been taken into custody, police said.

''(The 18-year-old) who was questioned said they wanted to kill and injure people and then take their own lives,'' Cologne police spokesman Norbert Wagner told a news conference.

The school alerted police after pupils discovered the 17-year-old had posted images on an Internet Web site of the 1999 Columbine High School shootings in the United States, when two students killed 13 people in Littleton, Colorado.

Wagner said officers went to the school on Friday and interviewed the 17-year-old, who they described as an ''inconspicuous'' pupil who did not appear a threat to others.

The youth told police he would remove the pictures, and threw himself under a tram on his way home. He later died.

Investigators believe the two also planned to use pipe bombs, which they had learnt how to make in advance, a police spokeswoman said. No bombs have been found so far.

Police also discovered a list of 17 names of teachers and pupils believed to be intended victims.

The elder of the two friends felt bullied at school and fitted the profile of a potential killer, police said.

Last year on November 20, the date of the planned attack, an 18-year-old stormed a secondary school in the town of Emsdetten, injuring 37, some seriously, before he committed suicide.

In April 2002, 19-year-old Robert Steinhauser shot dead 16 people before killing himself at a school in Erfurt, eastern Germany.

Earlier this month, an 18-year-old gunman went on a shooting rampage in a school in Finland, killing seven of his fellow pupils, the head teacher and later himself.

REUTERS DKS BST0242

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