Rare Iceland armed police operation leaves man dead

Police outside the flats in Reykjavik. 2 Dec 2013 Apartments were evacuated as neighbours were considered to be in danger

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Icelandic police have shot dead a man who was firing a shotgun in his apartment in the early hours of Monday.

It is the first time someone has been killed in an armed police operation in Iceland, officials say.

Tear gas canisters were fired through the windows in an attempt to subdue the 59-year-old, who lived in the east of the capital, Reykjavik.

When this failed he was shot after firing at police entering the building. Between 15 and 20 officers took part.

Back-up was provided by special forces.

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Reykjavik

The country ranks 15th in the world in terms of legal per capita gun ownership. However, acquiring a gun is not an easy process - steps to gun ownership include a medical examination and a written test.

Police are unarmed, too. A special force called the Viking Squad can carry arms.

The tear gas was used when the man, who has not been named, failed to respond to police attempts to contact him and continued shooting.

When they entered the apartment, two members of the special forces were injured by shotgun fire - one in the face, the other in the hand.

Investigation

The man, who died soon after arriving in hospital, was thought to be alone, police say, and the motive for his action remains unclear.

"Police regret this incident and would like to extend their condolences to the family of the man," Icelandic police chief Haraldur Johannessen told reporters.

The incident was "without precedent" in Iceland, he said.

The apartment block was evacuated as neighbours were considered to be in danger.

Iceland, with a population of 322,000, has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and shooting incidents are unusual.

Counselling is being provided to the special forces team.

An investigation is being carried out into the conduct of the police and to try to find out why the man began firing.

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