At least nine people were killed and multiple others were injured by an alleged far-right extremist at around 10 p.m. on Wednesday (February 19) in Hanau, Germany. The gunman died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound after the attack, the BBC reported; his mother’s body was also found at the scene.
According to authorities, the suspect targeted two shisha bars, or hookah lounges: Midnight and Arena Bar & Cafe, which were about 1.5 miles away from each other. He first killed several people at Midnight before traveling to Arena Bar & Cafe, where he targeted both a car and the venue. Every person killed was “of foreign backgrounds,” the Associated Press, and the BBC reported that at least five of the victims were Turkish citizens.
“Look, a hookah bar there, a gaming parlor there, a doner kebab place there — it’s a place frequented by immigrants,” Metin Kan, a bystander who knew many of the victims, told the Associated Press. “Why this hatred of foreigners? We all get along here.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attack on Thursday. “There is much to indicate that the perpetrator acted out of far-right extremist, racist motives,” she said, according to the Washington Post. “Out of hatred for people with other origins, other faiths or a different appearance.” The suspect allegedly posted a manifesto calling for the “complete extermination” of multiple “races or cultures in our midst,” according to the Associated Press and authorities are treating the attack as an act of domestic terrorism.
Earlier this month, the country’s justice minister warned against a “very worrying right-wing extremist and right-wing terrorist threat in our country.” Per the New York Times, xenophobic sentiment has been on the rise in recent years. German Parliament passed stricter gun-control laws in December after a perpetrator killed two people while trying to attack a synagogue in Halle.
“Racism is a poison; hate is a poison,” Merkel added of Thursday’s attacks. “This poison exists in our society, and it's to blame for too many tragic events.”