A man who took a woman hostage in Cologne on Monday was a 55-year-old Syrian who was granted asylum in Germany, police said, adding he was in a coma after being shot several times.

He appeared to have been planning to start a fire at a McDonald’s restaurant at the western city’s main train station with a large container of gasoline and gas cartridges. This could have caused a “huge” explosion, Senior Cologne police official Klaus-Stephan Becker told a news conference.

He took the woman hostage minutes later in a nearby pharmacy where she works.

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