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AFP
February 21, 2020

Merkel slams ‘poison’ of racism after 9 killed

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AFP
February 21, 2020

HANAU, Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the “poison” of racism Thursday after a shooter with suspected far-right beliefs killed nine people at a shisha bar and a cafe here.

The suspect, identified as 43-year-old German Tobias R., was found dead at his home following an hours-long manhunt.

The body of his 72-year-old mother was also found at the flat in what appeared to be a murder-suicide.

Federal counter-terror prosecutors said they suspected “a xenophobic motive” behind the shootings, the latest deadly attack blamed on the far right in Germany.

“Racism is a poison, hatred is a poison and this poison exists in our society and it is already to blame for far too many crimes,” Merkel said in Berlin.

The suspect left behind online a “manifesto” and video material suggesting “a hostile attitude to foreigners”, said Peter Beuth, the interior minister of the state of Hesse.

Among the dead were “several victims of Kurdish origin”, the Kon-Med association of Kurds in Germany said in a statement, adding that it was “furious” that authorities were not doing more to combat rising extremism. The rampage started at around 10:00 pm (2100 GMT) Wednesday at the Midnight shisha bar in central Hanau, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Frankfurt.

The gunman reportedly rang the doorbell and then shot at people in the smoking section, mass-market daily Bild said. He fled the scene by ca

before opening fire at the Arena Bar & Cafe, with witnesses reporting hearing a dozen shots. A total of nine people were killed, police said, and several were injured.

The bloodshed plunged Germany into mourning, and rallies are scheduled in Berlin, Hanau and other cities on Thursday to honour the victims. Relatives and friends of the victims gathered at the Arena bar around midday Thursday, an AFP reporter said, tearfully embracing one another. Police hurried to cover up the address of the perpetrator’s website with a blue plastic sheet after it was spray-painted on a nearby wall.

“I couldn’t be any more upset,” said Inge Bank, 82, who lives near the bar. “We have to nip it in the bud if the Nazi party is coming back,” Bank said, adding that she had lived through World War II.