Germany shisha lounge shootings: All the latest updates

After nine people were killed at shisha bars, German prosecutor reveals details of suspect’s far-right manifesto.

Police stand guard near the scene of a shooting in central Hanau, Germany Thursday, February 20, 2020 [Michael Probst/AP]
Police stand guard near the scene of a shooting in central Hanau, Germany Thursday, February 20, 2020 [Michael Probst/AP]

At least nine people were killed late on Wednesday as a 43-year-old German man went on a shooting rampage in the western town of Hanau, targeting customers at two separate shisha lounges.

The suspect and his mother were found dead in his apartment early on Thursday after a huge manhunt.

Police are attempting to identify the victims.

Federal prosecutors have said there are indications of a far-right motive.

Police said the two crime scenes were at Heumarkt, in the centre of Hanau, and Kurt-Schumacher-Platz in the western neighbourhood of Kesselstadt, about 2km (1.24 miles) away. The suspect’s apartment was also in Kesselstadt.

Here are all the latest updates:

Thursday, February 20

A survivor describes the attack

Witness testimony

“Last night, in Kesselstadt, in the Arena Bar, we first heard five or six gunshots. After that I saw [a man] going inside. I was eating at that moment – we were all eating, we had already paid the bill. A man went inside. There were 10 to 12 people. Only two, three or four managed to survive. One of them was me.

“The man came to one side and shot everyone. Then he came to our side. He shot the first guy in his head. He immediately fell down. Then he started shooting at the rest of us. My arm … I hid behind the wall. While hiding behind the wall I got shot in my arm. Then I fell onto the ground. Another guy fell over me, I fell over another guy, a guy fell over me, another one fell over him … We all went down like (inaudible), we were all one big pile.

“The guy that was lying under me, he had a hole in his throat. There was a hole in his throat. I spoke to him. He told me: ‘Brother, I cannot feel my tongue. I cannot feel my tongue, I am not able to breathe.’

“I said to him … I recited the shahada [the Islamic creed]. The guy started to scream, repeating the shahada, saying: ‘Everyone say shahada.’ No-one responded. There was only the two of us left. Yes. The man ran afterwards. We couldn’t see anything.”

Source: RTV

What we know so far

One victim ‘was Bosnian’

The Bosnian ministry of foreign affairs has confirmed that one victim was a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After initially stating that no citizens were among the victims of the attack, it has been subsequently established by the foreign ministry in conjunction with its consulate in Frankfurt that one victim – a permanent resident of Germany – was originally from Bosnia, and held Bosnian citizenship.

Germany’s federal prosecutor: ‘Suspect’s manifesto contained deeply racist material’

Germany’s federal prosecutor General Peter Frank told reporters that investigators are trying to determine if anyone else knew about or supported the attack, adding:

  • The suspect’s name was Tobias R. (It is common for authorities in Germany to only give the initial of a suspect’s surname)
  • At least six people were injured in the attack, including one who was seriously wounded. Germans and foreign citizens were among the victims

  • A gun was found next to the suspect’s body

  • The suspect had a manifesto that contained conspiracy theories and racist material

  • “On the suspected perpetrator’s home page, he had put up video messages and a kind of manifesto that, in addition to obscure thoughts and absurd conspiracy theories, pointed to deeply racist views,” 

Boris Johnson, UK prime minister, tweets condolences

The United Kingdom’s prime minister has offered support to Germany after the attack. 

In a tweet, Boris Johnson wrote: “My thoughts are with the people of Germany as they grieve those lost in the terrible attack in Hanau last night. The UK stands with our German friends against this racist assault on our values.”

Merkel condemns ‘poison’ of racism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was much to indicate racism motivated the Hanau shootings.

She also said: “Racism is a poison, hate is a poison, and this poison exists in our society.”

“Everything will be done to investigate the circumstances of these terrible murders,” Merkel said.

‘Germany the past week’

Stephanie Burnett, a reporter with Germany’s state-owned Deutsche Welle network, has tweeted a timeline of the past week including events that signal a growing far-right threat. 

Leader of Merkel’s party: Xenophobia is poisoning our society

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said xenophobia was a growing problem in Germany.

“It’s poison to see people as opponents, to see yourself as better than others, to see fellow citizens as foreigners – that’s a poison that is increasingly penetrating society and can ultimately lead to these crimes,” she said.

EU chief ‘deeply shocked’ by Germany shootings

“I am deeply shocked by the tragedy that took place last night in Hanau. My thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims, to whom I want to extend my sincerest condolences. We mourn with you today,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a former German government minister, tweeted.

EU Council head Charles Michel and European Parliament speaker David Sassoli echoed the sentiments in their own tweets.

General view of one of the crime scenes, following a shooting in Hanau [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

German state minister: Suspect had xenophobic motive, his mother is dead

The interior minister of the German state of Hesse said there was a xenophobic motive for the shooting in Hanau and said the suspect, a 43-year-old German man, and his mother, had been found dead with bullet wounds at his home.

Peter Beuth said investigations were ongoing as to whether there were any letters of confession. He added that he could not say who was visiting the shisha bars at the time of the attack.

Beuth said the perpetrator was in legal possession of arms and was a sports marksman.

Ethnic Turks among victims: Turkey

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency, said some of those killed were of Turkish origin.

Kalin said on Twitter: “We expect German authorities to show maximum effort to enlighten this case. Racism is a collective cancer.”

Indications of far-right motive: Prosecutors

There are indications that a gunman who shot dead nine people in shisha bars in Hanau in an overnight rampage had a far-right motive, German federal prosecutors said.

“Federal prosecutors have taken over the investigation and there are indications of a right-wing extremist background,” said a spokesman for the prosecutors.

Local media says suspected attacker left letter and video confession

Bild, Germany’s biggest-selling daily tabloid newspaper, said without citing a source that the suspected attacker left a letter and a video claiming responsibility and expressing extreme right-wing views.

It also said the man was a German citizen and that ammunition and gun magazines were found in his car.
He had a firearms hunting licence, the report said.

A special forces officer works on a robot in front of a house that is searched in Hanau [Michael Probst/AP]

Police track suspect by car number plate

Michael Malkmus, South East Hesse police spokesperson: “Now we are here at another crime scene in Hanau Kesselstadt. The police came to the scene on the basis of information from witnesses who identified a vehicle in the previous crimes and were able to read a licence plate number.”

“As a result, special forces have located this address. Two people were found dead in the apartment, and it looks like that one of the dead is the suspect.”

Federal prosecutors taking charge of Germany shooting case

Federal prosecutors say they are taking charge of the investigation into the Hanau shootings.

The Federal Prosecutors Office in Karlsruhe, which handles serious crimes, said it planned to hold a news conference later on Thursday.

Hanau shooting: Nine dead after two shisha bar attacks in Germany

A man suspected of fatally shooting nine people in the German city of Hanau was found dead at his home early on Thursday, hours after the attacks in and outside two shisha lounges, police said.

Read more here.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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