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Police probe far-right terror connection after nine killed in shootings in Germany

Nine people were killed and five wounded in the shootings in Hanau.

Image: PA Images

Updated Feb 20th 2020, 10:30 AM

A GERMAN MAN has shot and killed nine people at several locations in a Frankfurt suburb in attacks that appear to have been motivated by far-right beliefs, officials said.

The man suspected of carrying out two shootings in the city of Hanau has been found dead at his home.

Officers also found another body at the same address in the early hours of Thursday. German media, including public broadcaster ARD, has reported that the second body discovered at the property belonged to the man’s mother.

Nine people were killed and five wounded in the shootings in and outside two hookah lounges in the southwestern German city yesterday evening at around 10pm. 

Police gave no details of the suspected gunman but said “there are currently no indications of further perpetrators”.

Bild newspaper is reporting that the suspect was a German citizen with a firearms license. It also reported that ammunition and gun magazines were found in the man’s car. 

Witnesses and surveillance videos of the suspect’s getaway car led authorities to his home, near the scene of the second attack, where he was found dead near his 72-year-old mother, said Peter Beuth, the interior minister for the state of Hesse.

A website believed to be the 43-year-old suspect’s is being evaluated, Mr Beuth said.

“Initial analysis of the webpage of the suspect indicate a xenophobic motivation,” he added.

He said federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation of the crime and are treating it as an act of domestic terrorism.

“This is an attack on our free and peaceful society,” he said.

City centre attack

The first attack was at the Midnight shisha bar in the centre of the city, while a second shooting took place at the Arena Bar. 

It’s been reported that those killed in the first bar were of Kurdish origin. 

Officers sealed off and searched an apartment in the Kesselstadt district, near the scene of one of the shootings, after following up witness statements on a getaway car.

German counter-terror prosecutors said this morning that they had taken over the investigation into the two shootings. 

German news agency dpa reported that investigators are examining a video the suspect may have posted online several days earlier in which he detailed a conspiracy theory about child abuse in the US.

This morning Henry Faltin, a spokesman for police in south-eastern Hesse state, where Hanau is located, declined to comment on the dpa claim, or the report by the Bild that ammunition was also found in the suspect’s vehicle.

Officers sealed off and searched the apartment in the Kesselstadt district, near one of the shootings, after following up witness statements on a getaway car.

Police said work to confirm the identities of the two bodies at the home was under way, and they could not immediately give details on them or the identities of the earlier victims.

“Federal prosecutors have taken over because of the particular importance of the case,” a spokesman said, adding that “there are signs of a xenophobic motive” for the killings.

dead-by-gunfire-in-hanau Forensics is working on a Mercedes at a crime scene in Hanau-Kesselstadt. Source: Boris Roessler/DPA/PA Images

Earlier, police officers swarmed central Hanau, cordoning off the area of one of the shootings as a helicopter hovered overhead.

A car covered in thermal foil also could be seen, with shattered glass next to it. Forensic experts in white overalls collected evidence.

‘Terrible crime’

“Thoughts this morning are with the people of Hanau, in whose midst this terrible crime was committed,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said on Twitter.

“Deep sympathy for the affected families, who are grieving for their dead,” the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said. “We hope with those wounded that they will soon recover.”

Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky told the Bild newspaper: “This was a terrible evening that will certainly occupy us for a long, long time and we will remember with sadness.”

Katja Leikert, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right party who represents Hanau in the German parliament, tweeted that it was “a real horror scenario for us all”. 

Hanau is a large town located in southwestern Germany, about 20km east of Frankfurt. It has about 100,000 inhabitants.

Germany has been targeted in recent years by several extremist attacks, one of which killed 12 people in the heart of Berlin in December 2016. 

Far-right attacks have become a particular concern for German authorities. 

In October, a gun attack in the eastern city of Halle on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur left two people dead, while in June German politician Walter Luebcke, who supported welcoming refugees, was shot at his home. 

- with reporting from the AFP

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