German police release planned school attack suspect

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BERLIN, Nov 19 (Reuters) German police today released an 18-year-old pupil held over a suspected plot to kill people in a school in the western city of Cologne and authorities said plans for the attack were not as concrete as first believed.

Police said yesterday they had stopped two youths, aged 17 and 18, from carrying out a plan to kill and injure people at their secondary school on Tuesday, exactly a year after an attack by a gunman on a school in a town north of Cologne.

The younger of the two suspects killed himself on Friday.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office said the older youth had not wanted to go through with the plans, according to evidence from an online chatroom conversation between the two suspects.

''The planned rampage was abandoned by the suspect and the other said they did not want to go through with it on their own,'' a spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office said.

The school earlier alerted police after pupils discovered the 17-year-old 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.

The Prosecutor's Office said crossbows and ''soft air'' guns found at the youths' homes were not deadly nor intended to be used in an attack.

Last year on Nov. 20, the day 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.

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 RSA RN0001

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