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9 killed in suspected far-right attack in Germany

AGENCIES

Hanau

A 43-year-old German man shot and killed nine people at several locations in a Frankfurt
suburb overnight in attacks that appear to have been motivated by far-right beliefs, officials said Thursday.

The gunman first attacked a hookah bar in central Hanau at about 10 pm on Wednesday, killing several people before heading about 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles) west and opening fire again, claiming more victims.

Witnesses and surveillance videos of the suspect’s getaway car led authorities quickly 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 that of the suspect is being evaluated, Beuth said.

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

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.

Some of the victims are believed to be Turkish, and Turkey’s Foreign
Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the consulate in Frankfurt and the embassy in Berlin were trying to obtain information on the attack.

“According to the initial information, it was an attack with a racist motive, but we would need to wait for the (official) statement,” he told state television TRT.

German news agency dpa reported that police are examining a video the suspect may have posted online several days earlier in which he details a conspiracy theory about child abuse in the United States. The authenticity of the video couldn’t immediately be verified.

On a website registered by someone with the same name as the man in the video, Tobias R., the owner says he was born in Hanau in 1977 and grew up in the city, later training with a bank and completing a business degree in 2007.

The attack comes amid growing concerns about far-right violence in Germany.

Chancellor Angela Merkel called off a planned visit Thursday to a university in Halle.

Her spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said she was “being constantly kept abreast of the state of the investigations in Hanau.” Halle was the site of a deadly anti-Semitic attack last year. A man expressing anti-Jewish views tried to shoot his way into a synagogue, failed and killed two passers-by before being arrested.

The shooting in Halle came months after the killing of a regional politician from Merkel’s party. The suspect had a long history of neo-Nazi activity and convictions for violent crime.

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