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Manhunt after gunman kills two in shooting at Swiss tourist town

 (AP)
(AP)

Police have launched a manhunt after a shooter killed two people and injured a third after opening fire in a city in Switzerland.

The gunman fired shots at several people in two locations in Sion, in Switzerland’s southwestern canton of Valais, close to the borders with France and Italy, before before 8am on Monday.

Officers said they were still working to establish a motive for the shootings but that the suspect appeared to have known his victims.

Police said they had deployed officers to find the suspected shooter, and later issued an appeal for people to come forward with any information on a 36-year-old believed to be the gunman.

They warned people that "this person is dangerous" and they shouldn’t approach him. Authorities said later on Monday that a suspect had been arrested.

Regional newspaper Le Nouvelliste, which didn’t name sources, reported that shots were fired at a paint company’s premises and at another location.

The paper said that Sion was surrounded by police but that the local force did not say how many officers were involved in the search.

Local prosecutors opened a murder investigation.

Local have been warned not to approach the gunman (AP)
Local have been warned not to approach the gunman (AP)

Switzerland, a country of around 9 million, has a high rate of gun ownership, although mass shootings are rare, unlike in the US, where firearm ownership is also high.

The central European country last had a mass shooting in 2001, when a man stormed the local parliament in Zug and opened fire, killing 14 people before turning the gun on himself.

Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based organisation that monitors global trends in armed violence, estimates the number of firearms in civilian possession at 2.3 million.

Sion, which has a population of around 30,000, is the capital of the canton of Valais and is known for its cathedral and the towers of Tourbillion and Valeria castles.

The city has several ski resorts and is popular with tourists interested in winter sports.