Nanterre shooting rekindles memory of Zug massacre

Parliamentarians in Zug observe a minute's silence in memory of those who died in Nanterre Keystone

The killing of eight people at a local council meeting in France has rekindled memories of last September's massacre in the Swiss city of Zug.

This content was published on March 28, 2002 - 15:15

On Thursday, local parliamentarians in Zug held a minute's silence in memory of the victims, who were shot dead on Wednesday by a lone gunman as a council meeting in the French town of Nanterre was drawing to a close.

The attacker later committed suicide while being held in custody by French police.

"We know only too well what this attack means for those who have been left behind by the massacre," said Christoph Staub, the elected speaker of Zug's cantonal parliament.

The city of Zug became the centre of worldwide media attention on September 27 last year, when a 57-year-old gunman walked into the parliament building and shot dead 14 people before turning the gun on himself.

In a gesture of solidarity, a letter of condolence - collectively signed by Zug cantonal parliamentarians - has been sent via the French embassy in Bern to the local authorities in Nanterre.

Tighter security

Security at local parliament buildings across Switzerland was stepped up in the wake of the Zug attack.

Tighter security measures were also introduced inside the federal parliament building in the Swiss capital, Bern.

Zug parliamentarians have also proposed the idea of appointing an independent ombudsman to deal with complaints made by local citizens who feel they have been badly treated by the local government.

Zug police officials revealed the gunman had issued complaints to local transport and justice department officials prior to the attack.

French authorities said the 33-year-old Nanterre attacker regularly attended council meetings, but no motive has yet been established for the killings.

Possession of weapons

Analysts say the latest attack is likely to prompt calls for tougher French legislation concerning the possession of guns ahead of next month's presidential elections.

In Switzerland, the Zug massacre sparked heated debate about the nation's gun laws, which remain the most liberal in the world.

The gunman used a standard Swiss army issue assault rifle - a 5.6 mm SIG "Sturmgewehr 90" - to kill his victims.

The Swiss population is heavily armed because of the country's militia system, which requires men above the age of 20 to be ready for a call to service.

Around 500,000 Swiss keep their rifles at home, and soldiers also have the right to keep their weapons after they have been demobilised.

by Ramsey Zarifeh with agencies

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