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Swiss gunman kills 15 in rampage

SHARE Swiss gunman kills 15 in rampage

ZUG, Switzerland — A Swiss man with a grudge against local officials sprayed assault rifle fire and set off an explosive during a session of a state parliament Thursday, killing 14 people before turning the gun on himself, officials said.

Three of the Zug canton's seven-member government were killed and two were seriously injured, including government president Hanspeter Uster, said Robert Bisig, a government official who survived the attack by diving behind a desk. Eleven lawmakers and the gunman died.

Authorities said the man, identified as 57-year-old Friedrich Leibacher, had been embroiled in a legal conflict with local authorities after a dispute with a bus driver in Zug that escalated into a vendetta against transport and justice authorities.

The gunman — who wore a stolen, orange police vest — stormed into a morning joint session of the state government and parliament, firing a standard-issue Swiss army weapon. He then detonated an explosive device before fatally shooting himself, said Zug Police Chief Urs Hurlimann.

As lawmakers hit the floor in panic and the injured screamed in pain, journalists who were covering the parliamentary meeting took cover behind desks.

"The man strode through the whole floor, shooting at people," Swiss Telegraphic Agency reporter Dominik Hertach told Swiss television.

There was then an explosion, he said, and smoke filled the room. The force of the blast ripped doors off and shattered windows of the stately building near Zug's quaint old town and glistening lake.

The gunman used a 5.6 mm SIG "Sturmgewehr 90," the Swiss-made assault rifle commonly used by the country's militia army, police said.

Swiss President Moritz Leuenberger broke off a meeting with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and headed to Zug upon news of the attack. He ordered all state flags to fly at half-staff for the next three days. A religious service was planned in Zug's church for the evening.

"Our democracy and freedom has been put into question," a choked Leuenberger told journalists. "I'm just so shocked I can find no more words."

The chamber was packed at the time with 80 local lawmakers and seven government members, as well as journalists.

Leibacher, who lived in nearby Zurich, left a letter behind in which he spoke of a "day of rage against the Zug Mafia."

"On the basis of this letter, we can exclude any type of connection with the terrorist attacks in the United States," Hurlimann said.

Zug is a wealthy, lakeside town near Zurich, best known within Switzerland for its low tax rate. Zug is also the name of the canton, and its state legislature has widespread powers over issues ranging from education to taxation and health care.

Radio reports said a car with Swiss license plates — and containing a cache of weapons — was seized by police.