Armed police outside cinema
Armed police seen outside the multiplex. Facebook / Andreas Borris Preis

A man was shot dead after opening fire in a cinema complex in western Germany, according to local media. German police said that no-one had been injured by the gunman but a number of people had suffered the effects of tear gas released by the police.

German commandos are at the Viernheim cinema complex near Frankfurt where the attacker had barricaded himself in, Bild reported. At least 25 people are thought to have been injured with some reporting the number as high as 50.

There were conflicting reports initially, with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reporting the man had been arrested. Subsequently the state interior minister said he had been shot dead.

Reuters reported that the gunman took hostages but was shot by police. According to Bild the man entered and fired shots into the air.

The BBC reported that Hesse state's Interior minister, Peter Beuth, told the state parliament that police had an emergency call at 2:45pm local time from the gunman, adding that it was as yet unclear whether the gun was real. "The caller heard four shots and said that the masked man appeared a little mentally unstable. Police special forces were called," Beuth said.

The man's motives are as yet unknown but Frankfurter Allgemeine reported that police are investigating whether he had intended to rob the cinema, or his motives were ideological.