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'Grudge' behind Swiss gun massacre

ZUG, Switzerland (CNN) -- A gunman who killed 14 people at a Swiss regional parliament building had a grudge against local transport bosses, officials have revealed.

The Swiss attacker sprayed assault rifle fire around the parliament chamber and set off an explosive device during the incident on Thursday.

He seriously wounded another 10 people before turning the gun on himself in Switzerland's worst-ever shooting spree.

Three members of the seven-member state government were killed and two were seriously injured, including state President Hanspeter Uster, said government member Robert Bisig. He survived by diving behind a desk.

Swiss Parliament Speaker Peter Hess: 'He appeared clothed as a policeman and started shooting'
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The other 11 who died were all members of the state parliament in Zug, a wealthy lakeside town near Zurich.

Police were quick to stress that the attack was not to be connected to the September 11 aircraft hijack attacks on New York and Washington.

The gunman was identified as Friedrich Leibacher, 44, who had been locked in legal conflict with local authorities because of a row he had with a bus driver in Zug.

Officials told the Associated Press that the dispute had escalated into a vendetta against transport and justice authorities.

Leibacher, wearing an orange police vest, stormed into a morning joint session of the state government and parliament, firing a standard-issue Swiss army weapon in the chamber packed with 80 local lawmakers, the seven government members and journalists.

He then set off an explosive device before shooting himself dead, Zug police chief Urs Hurlimann told the Associated Press.

Later local resident placed flowers at the scene of the shooting spree near Zug's ancient town centre.

At the time of the attack smoke billowed across the chamber, and the force of the blast ripped doors off and shattered windows of the building.

Assembly members hit the floor in panic and the injured screamed as journalists covering the session hid behind their press desks for cover.

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

Hanspeter Hausheer, a member of parliament who was in the building, said the shooting lasted for about five minutes.

"It was like an execution," said Hausheer, also an analyst with banking giant UBS.

Police seized Leibacher's blue car, which was parked near parliament, and found a weapons cache inside.

His main weapon in the shootings was a Swiss-made 5.6 mm SIG "Sturmgewehr 90," the assault rifle commonly used by the nation's militia army.

Switzerland has among the most liberal gun laws in the world. Men who serve in the nation's militia army all keep their weapons at home.

Swiss President Moritz Leuenberger broke off a meeting with Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and headed to Zug after 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," Leuenberger said. "I'm just so shocked I can find no more words."

Leibacher, who grew up in Zug, 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.

Officials said that Leibacher's grievances dated back to a row with a bus driver two years ago.

He went on to have a grudge battle with public transport workers, leading the Transport Department to file a complaint against him.

Leibacher responded with counter-complaints against Transport and Justice Department officials, alleging they were violating their public duties. He was informed of the most recent rejection shortly before he went berserk.

Zug is known within Switzerland for its low tax rate. Zug is one of Switzerland's 26 cantons and enjoys a high degree of regional authority, with control over police, cantonal and local legislation, education, and local taxes.

It is one of the smaller cantons, but attracts a large number of international companies who want to set up shop in an area which has attractive tax levels.

The area close to Zurich airport but with attractive Alpine views is also home to a number of major commodity traders.

Marc Rich, a fugitive U.S. financier who caused a storm by being pardoned by former President Bill Clinton, has long been based there.

Despite liberal Swiss gun laws, violent crime is rare and there are only minimal controls at public buildings. Politicians rarely have police protection.

"We were proud that until now politicians could move freely. That has been put into question by this attack," Leuenberger said.

Peter Hess, president of the Swiss national parliament in Bern, interrupted a regular session of the national parliament to announce the death toll. A minute's silence was held.

He said security might now have to be reviewed.

"We want to keep an open house and let visitors in," Hess told journalists. "But maybe now we have to look at tighter restrictions."


• Swiss region of Zug

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