updated 3/14/2008 2:08:20 PM ET 2008-03-14T18:08:20

A U.S. soldier was shot dead by German police after taking his ex-girlfriend hostage and then going on the run armed with an assault rifle, authorities said on Friday.

The 30-year old broke into the woman's house late on Thursday, threatened her and tied her up, according to police in the Bavarian region of Unterfranken.

She was able to free herself and alerted the police, who began a search using a commando unit and a helicopter equipped with thermal-imaging equipment.

Officers found the soldier several hundred meters from the woman's house in the southern town of Koenigsberg. When they tried to arrest him, the soldier threatened them with the semi-automatic rifle and was shot, police said.

The soldier, who was stationed in Schweinfurt, died in hospital early on Friday.

Dagger Brigade
U.S. Army V Corps spokeswoman Hilde Patton said the soldier was from the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, known as the "Dagger" brigade.

"The Dagger Brigade along with the United States Army Europe takes incidents of this nature extremely seriously and will continue to work with the German authorities to maintain community safety," the statement said.

The name of the soldier was being withheld until his next of kin had been informed, it added.

German police said there was no indication that officers had acted illegally and prosecutors were not planning to open an investigation into the marksmen.

"During the attempt to arrest the armed man, officers were threatened with the weapon" and police opened fire, the statement said. "The officers had to assume that the suspect was going to fire on them with the weapon."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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