Police say 8 killed in shootings in the German city of Hanau
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Police say 8 killed in shootings in the German city of Hanau

Local media reports shooter targets at least two hookah bars in city of Hanau near Frankfurt; five others wounded; police hunting attacker

A car with covered dead bodies stands in front of a bar in Hanua, 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)
A car with covered dead bodies stands in front of a bar in Hanua, 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)

BERLIN –Eight people were killed in shootings in the German city of Hanau on Wednesday evening, authorities said. Two hookah lounges reportedly were targeted.

Authorities were searching for the perpetrators early Thursday, three hours after the shootings which took place at about 10 p.m. (2100 GMT,) which police said also left five people wounded.

A heavy police presence was in place in central Hanau, with officers cordoning off the scene of one of the shootings as a helicopter hovered overhead. A car covered in thermal foil also could be scene, with shattered glass next to it.

Witnesses said police officers with machine guns were deployed in the city.

Police guard the scenery in front of a restaurant 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)

A short police statement gave no information on the victims. It said the motive is not immediately clear.

Police said a dark vehicle was seen leaving the scene of the first shooting, and another shooting was reported at a second site.

Regional public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk said, without citing sources, that an attack took place in a hookah lounge in the center of the city. It said witnesses reported hearing eight or nine shots and seeing at least one person lying on the ground.

The perpetrator or perpetrators then apparently went to another part of the city, where shots were fired in another hookah lounge, the broadcaster said.

Hanau is in southwestern Germany, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) 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.

But 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.

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