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Three dead as gunman opens fire on colleagues at Swiss business

February 27, 2013|By Kim Willsher | This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
  • A police officer stands on Wednesday outside the Kronoswiss wood panel plant in Menznau, near Lucerne, where three people were killed when a gunman opened fire earlier in the day.
A police officer stands on Wednesday outside the Kronoswiss wood panel… (Sebastien Bozon / Agence…)

PARIS -- A gunman opened fire on colleagues at a Swiss wood-processing plant Wednesday morning, an attack that left three people dead, including the assailant, and seven others wounded.

The gunman walked into the staff canteen at the Kronoswiss wood-processing factory at Menznau, near Lucerne in central Switzerland, about 9 a.m. during a staff breakfast break and began shooting.

Police said the 42-year-old suspect, who was not named, had worked at the plant for a decade and did not fire at random but picked off specific colleagues with a handgun.

A spokesperson for Kronoswiss, which employs about 450 workers, said the gunman had always been “very calm” and “somebody you would not notice” during the time he worked for the company.

It wasn't immediately clear how the gunman died.

Gun ownership is widespread in Switzerland due to a long-standing tradition of allowing those who complete their compulsory military service to keep their rifles and weapons. Many serving in the military are reservists allowed to store weapons at home.

A referendum in 2012 aimed at tightening firearm controls was defeated.

The number of gun crime is low with 24 killings in 2009, a rate far lower per capita than in the U.S.

Other high-profile incidents include the 2001 shooting of 14 people at a City Council meeting in Zug, near Lucerne, and an attack last month by a 33-year-old gunman who killed three women and wounded two men in the village of Daillon in the south of Switzerland.

[For the record, 10:20 a.m. Feb. 27: An early version of this post incorrectly referred to the shooting in Zug as recent. The killings occurred in 2001.]

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