Tens of thousands of people attended vigils for the nine victims of an extreme right-wing extremist who opened fire on two Shisha bars in Hanau, Germany.
On Thursday vigils in Hanau and Berlin, people carrying candles and white roses met in silence.
Wednesday night’s attack is being treated by investigators as an act of terrorism.
Meanwhile, the German government faces calls to do more to combat the threat of extreme right wing extremism.
German federal prosecutor Peter Frank said the suspect, Tobias R, 43, published online material that showed a “deeply racist mentality.”
All the victims were of immigrant origin, and several are believed to be of Kurdish origin.
In a statement, the Kurdish Kon-Med association in Germany said it was “furious” with the authorities for “not resolutely opposing right-wing networks and right-wing terrorism.”
The Muslim association of Germany, KRM, also requested that more be done, saying that they had requested for months that there should be “a clear position against Islamophobia.”
In his response to the attack, Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the “poison of racism,” while attending one of the vigils, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Germany “will not be intimidated.”
What happened in the attacks?
The shooting began around 10:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. GMT) on Wednesday, and the first target was the Midnight shisha bar in downtown Hanau.
The suspect then traveled by car to the Kesselstadt neighborhood, about 2.5 km (1.5 miles) away, 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 the countries of the Middle East and Asia, they are also popular in many other parts of the world.
The shooting caused a human hunt. Police identified the gunman through witness information and surveillance cameras. Early Thursday, they broke into the suspect’s house, near the scene of the second shooting.
The suspect and his 72-year-old mother were found in his apartment, both also shot. A weapon was found next to the suspect’s body.
The investigation into the attack now focuses on whether others knew or helped organize it, Frank said Thursday, adding that investigators wanted to establish any link the suspect could have had in Germany or potentially also abroad.
Who were the victims?
Few details have been published, but they include German and foreign citizens between the ages of 21 and 44, Germany’s federal prosecutor said.
A Bosnian, Bulgarian and Romanian citizen died in the attack, their respective countries said.
Ali Can, a Turkish-German anti-racism activist, posted a picture of a friend of his cousin, saying the friend was among those killed.
Writing on Twitter he said: “We cannot spend a peaceful evening, we are afraid for our lives. What is happening in Germany? Where is the protection?”
What do we know about the suspect?
Tobias R had posted videos and a kind of manifesto on his website, the federal prosecutor said.
In the document he wrote that people from more than 20 countries, including Turkey and Israel, should be “destroyed,” AFP reported.
Peter Neumann, a German expert in the fight against terrorism based in London, said the text contained “diverse, but mostly, far-right views, with an improvised DIY ideology in parts found on the Internet.”
Hesse State Interior Minister Peter Beuth said the suspect had not previously been known to the authorities.
Bild’s tabloid newspaper reports that he had a firearms license and that ammunition and weapons magazines were found in his car.
Gun laws in Germany are among the strictest in the world, and have hardened even more in recent years after other mass shootings.
Recent far-right attacks in Germany
- October 2019: In Halle, an attacker kills two and tries to assault a synagogue, broadcasting the assault live online. He later admits an extreme right anti-Semitic motive for the attack.
- June 2019: Walter Lübcke, a pro-migrant politician, is shot in the head a short distance and is found dead in his garden. A suspect with links from the extreme right then confesses to the murder.
- July 2016: An 18-year-old boy shoots nine people in a mall in Munich before committing suicide. The Bavarian authorities then classified the attack as “politically motivated,” saying that the teenager had “radical right and racist views.”