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Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Arrests over school gun threats

File photograph of Tim Kretschmer in 2006
Tim Kretschmer fired more than 100 shots on Wednesday, police say

Police have detained at least four men in Europe over threats posted in online chatrooms following Wednesday's school shooting in Germany, reports say.

They include a 21-year-old German in Lower Saxony, and three teens in the Netherlands, France and Sweden.

They may have been inspired by German teenager Tim Kretschmer who shot dead 15 people, many at his former school.

Police have cast doubt on the authenticity of an internet warning said to have been posted by Kretschmer.

Fresh arrests

Following Wednesday's school killings, Dutch authorities closed schools and child care centres in the southern city of Breda on Friday after a threat was made to carry out a shooting at an unnamed school on an internet site, Dutch media reported.

An 18-year-old man was arrested.

TIM KRETSCHMER
Left Albertville school last year after passing exams
Officials said he was an ordinary pupil who had received good reports from school
German media reported he had begun an apprenticeship
Lived in the village of Leutenbach
A keen table-tennis player, who aspired to become professional

German police also closed a school in Ilsfed in southwestern Germany after a similar warning, and arrested a 21-year-old man in Lower Saxony over another chatroom threat.

In France, police detained an 18-year-old youth after he posted a warning of a shooting at a school in the Paris suburbs.

And Swedish police on Thursday detained a 17-year-old boy in the city of Lund who was suspected of posting a picture of himself posing with a weapon on an internet site, along with a threatening message against a high school.

The men - most of whom said the threats were meant "as a joke" - could face jail time or a fine.

Mystery

German police, meanwhile, say they have serious doubts about the authenticity of a posting attributed to Kretschmer.

In it, Kretschmer, who killed 12 people at Albertville secondary school in Winnenden and three in the nearby town of Wendlingen before taking his own life, purportedly bragged about his plans.

But a police spokesman, Klaus Hinderer, said a search of the 17-year-old's computer had found no evidence that he had made the posting.

Posting purportedly by Tim Kretschmer on Krautchand.net, suspected to be a fake (13 March 2009)
Experts said they believed the image of the purported warning was faked

The internet site on which the message was alleged to have been posted, Krautchan.net, has been temporarily shut down. It has been replaced by a message apparently from the US-based website hosts saying: "No killing spree was announced here."

"We don't know what exactly the authorities claim to have found on the perpetrator's PC. Maybe he visited the site, but he definitely didn't write the post that went through the news, because that one never existed," the message read.

Experts told the BBC they believed the purported post may have been faked in Photoshop, using an older, genuine entry by Kretschmer.

'Proof of illness'

On Thursday, Stuttgart district prosecutor Siegfried Mahler revealed that the teenager shot one of his victims at a psychiatric clinic where he was supposed to be receiving treatment for depression.

After shooting dead nine students and three teachers at his former school on Wednesday morning, Kretschmer walked across the road towards the clinic opposite and killed a man, thought to be a gardener.

Staff at the pyschiatric clinic in Winnenden lay flowers at the site where a man was shot (12 March 2009)
Staff at the clinic laid flowers where their colleague was shot dead

Mr Mahler said Kretschmer had attended five sessions between April and September last year at a clinic in the town of Weissenhoff, and was expected to continue outpatient therapy in Winnenden, but broke off the treatment.

Officials said Kretschmer had graduated from Albertville school with average grades in 2008 and had been studying sales at a vocational school since.

Although he played table tennis and lifted weights, his main hobbies appeared to be shooting and spending hours on his computer, where investigators found pornographic and violent films, they added.

His father was a successful businessman who legally owned 15 weapons - including the Beretta handgun used on Wednesday - and belonged to a gun club that both attended regularly for shooting practice.

Officials said Kretschmer fired 112 rounds during the three-hour shooting rampage on Wednesday, including 60 in the school. Officials say he still had more than 130 rounds of ammunition left when he was cornered by police and shot himself.

The motive for the rampage remains unclear, although Kretschmer appears to have targeted women inside the school. Eight of the nine students and all three of the teachers he shot dead were female.

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