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A suspected far-right extremist carried out the attacks on two shisha bars in western Germany, killing at least nine people, officials say.

Federal prosecutors are treating the case in the city of Hanau as terrorism, with authorities saying indications point to an anti-foreigner motive.

Some of those killed were believed to be of Turkish origin.

The 43-year-old suspect killed himself, police say. He was found dead at his home along with the body of his mother.

The Bild tabloid reports the suspect was a German citizen with a firearms licence, and that ammunition and gun magazines were found in his car.

Authorities are examining a video that the suspect may have posted online days before the attacks in which he expresses right-wing conspiracy theories. Bild said he had also left a letter of confession.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to make a statement later.

What do we know about the attacks?

The shootings took place around 22:00 (21:00 GMT) on Wednesday, and the first target was the Midnight shisha bar in the city centre of Hanau. Witnesses reported hearing about a dozen gunshots.

The suspect then reportedly travelled in a dark car to the Kesselstadt neighbourhood and opened fire at the Arena Bar & Cafe.

Shisha bars are places where people gather to smoke a pipe known as shisha or hookah. Traditionally found in Middle Eastern and Asian countries they are also popular in many other parts of the world.

Some of those killed were of Turkish origin, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted. Calling for a full German investigation, he said, “Racism is a collective cancer.”

The shootings sparked a seven-hour manhunt, while officers searched for what they thought could have been more than one attacker. Witnesses led police to the suspect’s home, near the scene of the second shooting, where he was found dead near his 72-year-old mother.

Can-Luca Frisenna, who works at a kiosk at the scene of one of the shootings, said his father and brother had been in the area when the attack took place.

“It’s like being in a film, it’s like a bad joke, that someone is playing a joke on us,” he told Reuters news agency. “I can’t grasp yet everything that has happened. My colleagues, all my colleagues, they are like my family – they can’t understand it either.”

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EPA

Image caption

The Arena Bar & Cafe was one of the places targeted

Hanau, in Hesse state, is a city of 100,000 residents about 25km (15 miles) east of Frankfurt. The attack happens amid growing concerns about far-right violence in Germany.

Hesse Interior Minister Peter Beuth said authorities were also examining a website attributed to the suspect. “What we know so far is that there is definitely a xenophobic motive. Whether there are claims of responsibility or documents, that’s still being investigated,” he said.

Gun laws in Germany are among the most stringent in the world, and were tightened further in recent years after other mass shootings.

Recent far-right attacks in Germany

  • October 2019: In Halle, an attacker kills two and tries to storm a synagogue, broadcasting the assault live online. He later admits a far-right, anti-Semitic motive for the attack
  • June 2019: Walter Lübcke, a pro-migrant politician, is shot in the head at close range and found dead in his garden. A suspect with far-right links later confesses to the murder
  • July 2016: An 18-year-old shoots dead nine people at a shopping mall in Munich before killing himself. Bavarian authorities later classify the attack as “politically motivated”, saying the teen had “radical right-wing and racist views”

What has the reaction been?

Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky told Bild it had been a “terrible night”, adding: “You could not imagine a worse night. It will of course keep us busy for a long, long time and remain a sad memory. I’m deeply moved.”

Katja Leikert, who represents Hanau in the German parliament, the Bundestag, said: “Hopefully the injured recover swiftly. It is a horrific scenario for us all.”

In other reaction:

  • Germany’s government spokesman Steffen Seibert: “My thoughts are with the people in Hanau this morning, where an appalling crime was committed”
  • German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer: “The background must now be clarified further. Violence from right-wing extremists must not let us rest, we must stand against it”
  • Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President and former German government minister: “I am deeply shocked by the tragedy that took place… in Hanau”
  • French President Emmanuel Macron: “Immense sadness and my full support for Germany in the face of this tragic attack… I stand with Chancellor Merkel in this fight for our values and the protection of our democracies”

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