At least 9 killed in Germany shootings; suspect found dead at home with 1 other
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At least 9 killed in Germany shootings; suspect found dead at home with 1 other

Gunman targets 2 hookah bars, many of the victims said to be of Kurdish origin; police won’t speculate on motive despite recent rise in far-right attacks

Police stand guard near the scene of a shooting in central Hanau, Germany Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. German police say several people were shot to death in the city of Hanau on Wednesday evening. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)
Police stand guard near the scene of a shooting in central Hanau, Germany Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. German police say several people were shot to death in the city of Hanau on Wednesday evening. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

HANAU, Germany — A suspect in two shootings in Germany that killed at least nine people was found dead at home, police said on Thursday.

“The likely perpetrator was found dead at his home in Hanau. The police special intervention forces have also discovered another body there. The investigation is ongoing. Currently there is no indication there are other perpetrators,” police in the central state of Hesse said on Twitter.

They did not give details of his possible motive or how he died, or specify why they believe “with a high degree of probability” that he was the assailant.

Officers sealed off and searched the apartment in Hanau’s Kesselstadt district, near the scene of 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 still underway, and they couldn’t immediately give details either on them or the identities of the victims of the earlier shootings.

Forensics enter a building at the scene after a shooting in central Hanau, Germany Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)

The attacks targeted shisha (hookah) bars in Hanau, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Frankfurt, where armed police quickly fanned out and police helicopters roamed the sky looking for those responsible for the bloodshed.

The first attack occurred at the “Midnight” bar in the center of the city around 10pm (2100 GMT), police and reports said. Three people were killed in front of the building, local media said, with witnesses reporting hearing a dozen shots.

The attacker, or attackers, fled the scene by car, according to police. There was then a second shooting at Arena Bar.

A special forces officer works on a robot in front of a house that is searched through by police in Hanau, Germany Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

A gunman reportedly rang the doorbell and shot people in the smoking area, killing five people including a woman, according to mass-circulation Bild, adding that the victims were of Kurdish origin.

“The victims are people we have known for years,” said the bar manager’s son, quoted by DPA news agency. Two employees were among the victims, according to the man, who was not at the bar during the shooting. “It is a shock for everyone”.

At least five people were also seriously wounded in the attacks, reports said.

An AFP journalist at the scene saw around thirty police cars leaving Hanau police station. Witnesses said police officers with machine guns were deployed in the city.

A silver Mercedes covered by what looked like a survival blanket could be seen behind a police cordon and surrounded by officers in front of “Arena Bar”, with shattered glass on the floor.

Forensics investigate at the scene after a shooting in central Hanau, Germany Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. Eight people were killed in shootings in the German city of Hanau on Wednesday evening, authorities said. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Horror scenario

The mayor of Hanau, Claus Kaminsky, told mass circulation Bild that it had been “a terrible night”.

“You could not imagine a worse night. It will of course keep us busy for a long, long time and remain a sad memory.”

MP for the region, Katja Leikert said it was “a real horror scenario.”

“On this dreadful night for Hanau, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the relatives of those killed. I hope the injured will recover quickly,” she said.

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.

A special forces officer guards the road in front of a house that is searched through by police in Hanau, Germany Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020  (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

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

In October, a deadly anti-Semitic gun attack in the eastern city of Halle on the holy day of Yom Kippur underscored the rising threat of neo-Nazi violence. The rampage, in which two people were shot dead, was streamed live.

Last June conservative politician Walter Luebcke, an advocate of a liberal refugee policy, was shot at his home.

On Friday police arrested 12 members of a German extreme right group believed to have been plotting “shocking” large-scale attacks on mosques similar to the ones carried out in New Zealand last year.

German-Turkish Islamic organisation Ditib, which funds around 900 mosques in Germany, called for greater protections for Muslims in the country, saying they “no longer feel safe” in Germany.

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