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Police: German arrested over killing after mask dispute

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BERLIN (AP) — Police in Germany say a 49-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the shooting dead of a gas station clerk following a dispute over face masks.

Authorities in the western city of Trier said late Monday that the suspect told officers he acted "out of anger" after he went to a gas station in Idar-Oberstein on Saturday to buy beer and the 20-year-old clerk asked him to put on a mask before being served.

"He further stated during interrogation that he rejected the measures against the coronavirus," police said in a statement.

A requirement to wear masks is among the measures in place in Germany to stop the spread of the virus.

According to police, the suspect initially left the gas station after the dispute in the town of Idar-Oberstein, but then returned half an hour later wearing a mask and fatally shot the clerk in the head.

The suspect, a German citizen who wasn't identified by name in line with privacy laws, initially fled the scene but turned himself in to police on Sunday morning.

There have been regular protests, some violent, against Germany's pandemic restrictions over the past year.

One driving force behind the protests is the loose-knit Querdenken movement, that includes people who oppose masks and vaccines, conspiracy theorists and some far-right extremists.

Facebook last week removed almost 150 accounts and pages linked to the Querdenken movement under a new policy focused on groups that spread misinformation or incite violence, but who don't fit into the platform's existing categories of bad actors.

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