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Manhunt underway after five people injured in 'chainsaw attack' in Switzerland

Two of the people have serious injuries.

Police have shut down the town of Schaffhausen
Police have shut down the town of Schaffhausen
Image: Ennio Leanza/AP/Press Association Images

A MAN ARMED with a chainsaw injured at least five people in Switzerland and is on the run after a rampage that police said was not “a terrorist act”.

Officers have identified the assailant as a 52-year-old man with a criminal history and no fixed address who reportedly has spent significant time living in a forest.

The attack began shortly after the suspect entered an office building in the northern town of Schaffhausen at 10.30am local time (8.30am here), local police said in a statement.

Schaffhausen prosecutor Peter Sticher told reporters that an insurance company with offices in the building was the apparent target, indicating the attacker had a grievance with the firm.

The authorities were alerted about 10 minutes after the rampage began and rushed officers, ambulances and helicopters to the scene.

The injured included one employee of the insurance company who suffered serious wounds, Schaffhausen police said, adding that all the victims had been hospitalised.

The town’s historic old quarter had been sealed off by a large deployment of officers who evacuated all businesses and pedestrians, but the barricades were later removed and regular traffic has returned to the area.

‘Dangerous and aggressive’
Police have distributed photos of the presumed attacker that show him looking dishevelled. He is pictured standing alone in what appears to be a forested area.

“This is a dangerous and aggressive man,” the chief of security in Schaffhausen, Ravi Landoldt, told reporters. “This was not his first contact with police.”

He was detained in 2014 and again in 2016 for weapons violations, police said.

Despite relatively low crime rates, Switzerland has one of the highest rates of firearm ownership in the world and police said it was likely that the suspect was carrying weapons while on the run.

The manhunt by Schaffhausen police is being supported by officers in Zurich as well as German authorities, the ATS news agency reported, adding that the suspect’s vehicle, a white Volkswagen, has been found.

In statements to local media, police underscored that the attack was not “a terrorist act”.

Schaffhausen, just north of Zurich near the German border, has an estimated population of 36,000.

© – AFP, 2017

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