In a gruesome incident, a man in Germany killed his wife today by cutting her into pieces and severing her head in front of his six young children.

Orhan Sircasi, 32, then ran on to the roof of his apartment building clutching his wife's severed head in one hand and a butcher's knife in the other. The killer of Turkish origin fought off police as they tried to seize him early this morning by lunging at them with the knife and swinging the head like a club.

After he lunged at police with the severed head of his wife he threw it from the roof of his five storey apartment building to the street below. He was overpowered on the rooftop in Berlin and taken into custody, the Daily Mail reported.

Then officers entered the apartment in the Kreuzberg district of the capital to find the dismembered body of his wife and the six children aged from nine months to ten years.

"They were in a terrible state," said a neighbour. "He made them watch as he butchered their mother then cut her up into little pieces."

Neighbours alerted police in the early hours of the morning after they heard screaming coming from the flat. It is unclear what caused the fatal row.

The children have been put under psychiatric observation as their father was charged with murder. Stunned neighbours of the man in Koethener Strasse, in the working class Kreuzberg district of Berlin, covered the head with a blue plastic bag until police retrieved it.

Media reported that the man was often violent towards his wife, beating and kicking her if she displeased him, especially after he had been drinking. Blood spots were seen outside the flats near the Potsdamer Platz. The suspect is thought to be known to police for various offences including negligence, and traffic and drug offences. He is due before the courts tomorrow.