All nine of those killed in a far-right terror attack on two shisha bars in Germany had migrant backgrounds, authorities say, while a number of foreigners are also believed to be among the six wounded.
A 35-year-old pregnant mother-of-two was among those shot dead in the town of Hanau on Wednesday night, German newspaper Bild reported, while Turks Gokhan Gultekin and a 22-year-old Ferhat Ünvar – both employees at one of the shisha bars – were also named among the dead.
The gunman was named as 43-year-old Tobias Rathjen, a far-right conspiracy theorist who advocated ethnic cleansing in a 24-page manifesto posted online, who opened fire in his hometown starting at 10pm.
Rathjen first targeted the Midnight bar and shisha lounge in the town centre and the La Votre cafe next door, before driving 1.5miles up the road where he attacked another shisha lounge – the Arena Bar and Cafe – as well as people sitting in a sports car outside.
He is then thought to have fled to his parents’ house just around the corner from the second murder scene where he shot his 72-year-old mother dead in front of his father, then turned the gun on himself. Police discovered his body in a raid on the apartment around 3am.
Bilal Gokce, Sedat Gurbuz, Agrı Eleskirtli and Bulgarian citizen Kolayan Velkov, 32, were also named by Turkish media as being among the victims.
Other victims identified in social media posts include Bosnian-born Hamza Kutovic, 20, and Polish Roma mother-of-two called Mercedes who worked in one of the bars.
Residents of the city tearfully embraced each other and laid flowers today for the victims of the attack.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier laid flowers near the scene and embraced Metin Ünvar, the father of Ferhat who was killed in the atrocity, during a candle-lit vigil in Hanau today.
Mourners attending a vigil for the victims of the double shooting in Hanau, near Frankfurt, last night. Nine victims were killed in the attacks on two shisha bars
People mourn as they gather at the Marktplatz in Hanau holding pictures of the victims, holding a banner reading: ‘Racism and fascism kill everywhere’
Gokhan Gultekin (above), who was an employee at one of the shisha bars shot at last night, was named among the victims
Ferhat Ünvar was identified as one of the victims of the Hanau terror attack last night. Vigils were held in Hanau, Frankfurt and Berlin to pay tribute to those killed
Mourning: Metin Unvar, father of victim Ferhat holding a picture of his son at the vigil being held in Marktplatz in Hanau, Germany, this evening
President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, embraced Metin Unvar, the father of Ferhat Unvar who died in the atrocity, during a vigil being held in Marktplatz, Hanau, today
Bilal Gokce (left) and Sedat Gürbüz (right) were also identified in the Turkish media as being among the nine shooting victims
Ferhat Ünvar, 22, and Gokhan Gultekin (pictured centre) who both worked at one of the shisha bars were named as victims of the terror attack in Hanau
Mourners holding up photos of victims during a vigil close to a crime scene in Hanau today. The suspect in the two shootings that killed at least nine people was found dead at home, police said
A photo placed between candles and flowers of one of the victims at a monument after a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Hanau today
Mohammed was at one of the shisha bars when the shooting began and told German broadcaster Blick he hid behind a wall as the gunman unloaded bullets inside the cafe.
Speaking from his hospital bed after being shot in the shoulder, he said: ‘We first heard five or six shots outside and then the man came into the bar and immediately started shooting at us indiscriminately.
‘The man came in by the side and killed everyone. Then he came to our side. He shot everyone he saw right in the head. I was hiding behind a wall. When I moved to the side, he shot me in the arm.
‘The man kept shooting and hit someone in the neck. He was lying on top of me, with a hole in his throat, and shouting that he could no longer feel his tongue. Only a few survived…I am one of them.’
Kemal Koçak the owner of the Arena bar, told Turkish media he was friends with may of the victims, and that the gunman shot Gokhan while he was working at the buffet, before opening fire on two people sitting at a table eating.
He added: ‘Even though we [the survivors] are [physically] fine, half of our hearts are gone. Everything is gone. My Gokhan is gone, Ferhat is gone. They’re all gone.’
Relatives and friends of the victims gathered at the Arena bar today and laid flowers at the scene of the killings.
‘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.
Turks, ethnic Kurds and people with backgrounds from Bulgaria and Bosnia were among those killed, according to news reports. People of Turkish background make up Germany’s single largest ethnic minority.
A mourner crying during a vigil for the victims of the terrorist shooting in Hanau, near Frankfurt, on Wednesday night
Relatives holding up photos of the victims at a vigil near the Midnight shisha bar, one of the sites of last night’s shootings
Tobias Rathjen, 43, opened fire at two locations in the German town of Hanau overnight, killing nine people and leaving six others injured before going back to his parents’ apartment where he shot his 72-year-old dead and then killed himself
Rathjen, pictured bottom right in a yearbook photo from 1996, uploaded a manifesto online before carrying out his attacks detailing his belief in ethnic cleansing, mind control and that the government was following him
People attending a vigil with a message of solidarity after the Hanau terror attack at the St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt today
A vigil after the Hanau terror attack at the St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt near the scene of the shootings. The number of victims killed at the two crime scenes last night increased to nine
People placed candles, flowers and signs against racism at the ‘Brueder Grimm’ monument after a vigil for the victims near the Midnight shisha bar, one of the sites of last night’s shootings
A sketch of a woman seen between candles and flowers at a monument on the market place during a mourning for the victims of the shooting in Hanau
Personalities from German politics and society gather for a vigil at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin to commemorate the victims of the Hanau shootings
A man holding a banner reading ‘We cry for the victims of Hanau, Halle, Kassel, Moelln etc. Stop hate in social media Google, Facebook, Twitter’, during a vigil at the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the victims of the Hanau shootings
German Kurds today called for stronger government action against far-right radicalism and racism.
Metin Kan, who knew many of the victims, said it was obvious why the gunman chose the neighbourhood to go on his killing rampage.
He said: ‘Politicians must ask themselves, ”how did we get here?”. ‘Look, a hookah bar there, a gaming parlour there, a doner kebab place there – it’s a place frequented by immigrants. Why this hatred of foreigners? We all get along here.’
Baran Celik said outside the Midnight shisha bar, where the first of the two shootings took place, that the shooting were ‘tragic’.
The 27-year-old said: ‘You never think about something like this happening near to you. You see things like this on the news…and then it happens right in front of your door – it’s tragic.’
Twenty-year-old Sabuhr Alizadeh, who lives in the city of Hanau, described the attacks were ‘horrific’.
‘Someone I know was here when the shooting started, he called me and hid under a table,’ said Alizadeh, an Afghan who has lived in Hanau for nearly four years.
President Steinmeier placed a wreath of white flowers outside the Arena bar this evening before addressing the main Hanau vigil.
Mourners placed candles and flowers at the ‘Brueder Grimm’ monument in Hanau after a vigil for the victims near the Midnight shisha bar, one of the sites of last night’s shootings
People light candles during a vigil a central place in Hanau, near Frankfurt after at least nine people were killed in two shootings last night
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (centre) today pays his respects to the victims near the Midnight shisha bar, one of the sites of last night’s shootings, in Hanau
Mourners holding hand in a circle at a vigil after the Hanau terror attack at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin today
People holding a banner reading ‘Followers are also Nazis’ as they gather for a vigil at the Brandenburg Gate in Berling to commemorate the victims of the Hanau shootings
People holding Turkish flags during a vigil for the victims of the shooting in Hanau. At least five of the victims are said to have been of Turkish descent
Demonstrators held anti-racism placards after a vigil for the victims near the Midnight shisha bar, one of the sites of last night’s shootings
Mourners placing candles and flowers at the Unity Memorial as people attend a vigil after the Hanau terror attack at the St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt
Protesters reading ‘All together against right-wing terror’ during a march in Berlin during a vigil for the victims of the Hanau shooting last night
Teams standing for a minute of silence for the victims of Hanau shooting prior to the Europa League last 32 first leg football match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Salzburg today
Steinmeier, who serves as a moral compass for the nation, condemned the shooter’s ‘brutal act of terror’.
But he said he was heartened to see ‘thousands, maybe even tens of thousands’ turning out across the country to honour the victims.
‘We stand together, we want to live together and we show that over and over again. That is the strongest way to fight hatred,’ he said, to the occasional shout of ‘Nazis Out!’ from the crowd.
Football team Eintracht Frankfurt held a minute’s silence ahead of its Europa League match against RB Salzburg.
The Kon-Med association of Kurds in Germany said there were ‘several victims of Kurdish origin’, and criticised German authorities for not taking a tougher stance against ‘far-right terrorism’.
As prosecutors confirmed that the Hanau suspect, Rathjen, had harboured a ‘deeply racist attitude’, Alizadeh said that the racists ‘should just go away’.
‘It’s deeply sad because Hanau is known for having people from different countries and religions… we will hold together in future because this is our home,’ he added.
Germany’s chief prosecutor Peter Frank said Rathjen was not known to police and it appears acted alone, but is investigating whether he had an accomplice or received support from anyone else.
Metin, father of of victim Ferhat Unvar, holding his son’s picture at a candle-lit vigil in the the city of Hanau, Germany, today
People holding posters at a vigil for the victims of the shooting, as mourners gather in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, today. The posters read ‘Humans are not equal, but their rights are’ and ‘No place for racism’
German police officers guard the entrance of a bar where several people were killed late Wednesday in Hanau, Germany
Police secure the shisha bar where several people were killed when Rathjen opened fire around 10pm Wednesday
Bodies being carried away from the scene after a German far-right extremist killed at least nine people in Hanau last night
Security forces take security measures as dead bodies are being carried away from the scene after a German far-right extremist killed at least nine people, including five Turkish nationals
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Buedenbender pay their respects to the vicitms close to a crime scene in Hanau today
Rathjen is thought to have bought the murder weapon – believed to be a Glock 17, 9mm pistol – legally online using a gun licence he had since 2013.
The weapon is the same as the one used in the Munich shopping mall attack in 2016. Rathjen is also thought to have owned two other weapons – a SIG Sauer 9mm and a Walther 9mm.
Rathjen was also a member of a local shooting club, which he attended up to three times a week.
President Claus Schmidt said there were no indications that he was a dangerous racist, saying: ‘He was totally inconspicuous. There wasn’t the slightest hint of racism or xenophobia, not even a weird joke.’
Meanwhile the Turkish embassy in Berlin said five of its citizens were among those killed in what President Erdogan called a ‘racist attack’. German authorities have called it a ‘terror attack’ motivated by far-right ideology.
An official from the consulate of Bosnia and Herzegovina also reported that one of the victims was Bosnian.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said the shootings exposed the ‘poison’ of racism in Germany, and she pledged to stand up against those who seek to divide the country.
‘There is much to indicate that the perpetrator acted out of far-right extremist, racist motives,’ she said. ‘Out of hatred for people with other origins, other faiths or a different appearance.’
All of the victims were aged between 21 and 44, Germany’s chief prosecutor Peter Frank said on Thursday afternoon, without giving any more details.
Speaking about Rathjen, Frank said the gunman had posted extremist videos and a manifesto with ‘confused ideas and far-fetched conspiracy theories’ on his website.
An examination of the website by MailOnline shows that Rathjen was obsessed by aliens, mind control, Satanic sacrifice and believed he was under government surveillance – which he blamed on his inability to get a girlfriend.
It appears Rathjen wrote a letter to Berlin’s chief prosecutor in November last year, complaining that he was being spied on by a secret German intelligence service and urging them to stop.
A criminal expert points in front of a bar, while working on a car containing dead bodies in Hanau, Germany
A forensic officer at the scene outside the Midnight shisha bar, one of the sites of last night’s shootings in Hanau
The La Votre cafe and bar, which is next door to the Midnight shisha bar and was also targeted in last night’s attack
The Arena Bar and Cafe was the scene of the second attack, in which three people are thought to have been killed
It is thought Rathjen got into this vehicle after the first shooting, drove a mile down the road to his second target, then returned to this address where he killed himself
Police have seized a vehicle believed to belong to Rathjen from outside an apartment where he killed himself
Rathjen opened fire at the Midnight shisha bar in Hanau around 10pm (right), killing three people, before making his way to the Arena Bar and Cafe (left) where he shot and killed another five people. Another person later died in hospital, and it is not clear exactly where they were shot. Two more bodies – believed to be those of the killer and his mother – were then found at an apartment close to the second crime scene
The 19-page letter is believed to be substantially similar to the manifesto Rathjen posted around the time of the shootings.
Rathjen also advocated ethnic cleansing, vowing to wipe out entire countries including Israel, most of the Middle East, some Asian nations, North Africa, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Germans who he considered to be ‘impure’,
‘I can imagine halving the population,’ he wrote.
Rathjen is thought to have used a Glock 17, 9mm pistol that he bought legally online using a gun licence in the attack. He is also thought to have owned two other handguns
Alongside the manifesto, Rathjen outlined a plan to help the German football team win a World Cup and a strategy that he insisted could have ended the Afghan and Iraq wars within 10 years.
His website included links to prominent conspiracy theorists including people who claim to have carried out autopsies on aliens or to be investigating missing persons cases which they link to alien abduction.
And in a video posted online just a few days before the attack, Rathjen rants about underground military bases in America where he claims Satan worship and child abuse takes place – urging people to rise up and attack them.
Following the raid on the apartment where Rathjen died, a man – believed to be his father – was seen being led away from the scene in handcuffs. He is not thought to have been directly involved in the attacks.
Police said they found a letter and a video in the apartment in which Rathjen confessed to the killing.
The attack is thought to have targeted shisha bars because they are popular with Middle Eastern men who gather there to smoke flavored tobacco from water pipes.
From migrant crisis, to AfD, to terror attacks: The rise of the German far-right
Germany has been at the centre of a resurgence in far-right politics across Europe in recent years, which has seen the AfD seize a record number of seats in parliament, a far-right attack on a synagogue and a politician murdered by a right-wing extremist suspect.
The swing towards right-wing ideology began as a backlash to the 2015 migrant crisis, when Chancellor Angela Merkel threw open Germany’s borders to migrants crossing the Mediterranean – infamously declaring ‘we can do it’.
An estimated 1million migrants arrived in Germany that year alone followed by headline-grabbing stories of sexual assaults, most infamously on New Year’s Eve 2015/16 when more than 1,000 women in 12 cities including Cologne claimed to have been sexually assaulted, mostly by men with a non-European background.
Far-right gunman Stephan Balliet opened fire on a German synagogue in October last year during Yom Kippur – trying and failing to get inside and massacre worshippers – before shooting two people dead and injuring two others outside
After failing to get inside the synagogue, Balliet opened fire on passersby (pictured) before going around the corner to a kebab shop and firing through the windows
In 2017, anger at the attacks coupled with fears about integrating large numbers of migrants into local communities manifested in record support for the far-right AfD at Germany’s national election – earning them 94 seats in parliament and making them the third largest party.
The rise of the AfD’s political movement has been mirrored in a rise of far-right extremism that included two high-profile attacks last year.
In June, politician Walter Luebcke who had strong pro-migrant views and led a regional government in the town of Kassel, was found dead outside his home from a single pistol shot to the head.
A 45-year-old man with a history of violent hate crimes was subsequently arrested, in what police believe was a targeted killing borne out of high extremist right-wing ideology.
Then, in October the same year, a far-right extremist attacked a synagogue in the Germany city of Halle on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, with rifles and explosives.
After trying and failing to get into the synagogue, he shot two people and injured two others including attacking a nearby kebab shop before being arrested.
German police have also recorded an increase in hate crimes, which rose from 7,913 to 8,113 in 2018, with the majority of those attributed to the far-right. Anti-Semitic crimes also rose in the same period, from 1,504 to 1,799.
In 2018, anti-terror police also seized 1,091 weapons linked to crimes by alleged far-right extremists, a 61 per cent increase on 2017 as experts warned of a ‘massive rearmament’ by neo-Nazi groups.
And, in the first half of 2019 alone, police said they registered 8,605 right-wing extremist offenses – an increase of 900 on the same period of 2018.
Just last week, 12 people including a German police employee were arrested and accused of plotting to create ‘civil war’ with attacks on migrants, asylum seekers, politicians and Muslims.
Pro-migrant politician Walter Luebcke (left) was shot dead outside his home in 2019 by a far-right attacker. German police arrested 12 people, including one of their own employees, who were plotting more attacks on politicians last week (right)
Police handcuff a man near the scene of one of the shootings. German media reported that the shooter’s father was led away from his apartment in handcuffs, but is not thought to have been directly involved in the shooting
The first shooting occurred around 10pm when gunfire erupted at the Midnight shisha lounge in Hanau town centre, before more shots were fired at the cafe next door
A bullet seen on the ground after a drive-by shooting in Hanau near Frankfurt last night. Six people were hurt, including one in a serious condition
Rathjen is then thought to have driven away from the first scene and gone 1.5miles to the Arena Bar and Cafe, where he opened fire on a sports car outside and then the cafe itself
Five people are thought to have been shot dead at the second location, which included a second shisha bar. The victims are thought to include Kurds, Turks, a Bosnian and a Pole
A forensic officers leaves the La Votre cafe, which is located next door to the Midnight shisha lounge, where possible bullet casings are marked on the floor
Special forces officers are seen working near the scene of the first shooting in Hanau, which has been described as a terrorist attack by investigators
Emergency service swarmed the area after the shooting. A silver Mercedes covered with rescue blankets was seen in front of a bar in Hanau
The body of a man who was shot in a car is taken to a van at the crime scene at a bar in Hanau, Germany
Witness Kadir Kose ran over from a cafe he runs nearby after he heard the first shots, initially assuming there was an altercation between family members.
‘But when I heard the second shots I thought it was a terror attack,’ Kose said.
He said he was shocked at the extent of the violence, saying that while fights or stabbing aren’t unheard of, ‘this is a whole other level, something we hear about from America.’
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 the body of his 72-year-old mother, said Peter Beuth, the interior minister for the state of Hesse.
Neighbor Dieter Hog said he looked out his window and saw 25 or 30 police officers with dogs combing the area.
‘They were running around looking for the fugitive who was involved,’ Hog told The Associated Press, adding that even though he lived close by he did not know the suspect.
Both the suspect and his mother had gunshot wounds, and the weapon was found on the suspect, Beuth said.
At the townhouse Thursday, forensic experts came and went from the building, and police kept people away.
A website believed to be the suspect’s is being evaluated, Beuth said.
‘Initial analysis of the web page of the suspect indicate a xenophobic motivation,’ he said. It does not appear, however, that the suspect was known either to police or Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, he added.
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.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while the circumstances of the attack still needed to be fully investigated, the shootings exposed the ‘poison’ of racism in German society. Merkel pledged to stand up against those who seek to divide the country.
‘There is much to indicate that the perpetrator acted out of far-right extremist, racist motives. Out of hatred for people with other origins, other faiths or a different appearance,’ the German leader said.
Police forensic personnel investigate at the scene after a shooting in central Hanau
Broken glass on the floor after the shooting yesterday. German police say several people were shot to death in the city of Hanau on Wednesday evening
A police officer secures the area around two shisha bars after a shooting in Hanau near Frankfurt, Germany
Officers detaining a man near a damaged silver Mercedes car after a shooting in Hanau near Frankfurt yesterday night
Police said a dark vehicle was seen leaving the scene of the first shooting, and another shooting was reported at a second site
Forensic experts are seen outside a shisha bar after a shooting in Hanau near Frankfurt
A police officer looking for evidence in front of a restaurant at the scene of a shooting in central Hanau last night
A man places a flower tribute in front of a shisha bar where several people were late Wednesday in Hanau
Konstantin von Notz, a German politician who sits on the panel which oversees Germany’s intelligence services, added: ‘I am deeply affected by the horrific terrorist attack in Hanau. My thoughts are with the victims and injuries and their relatives.
‘My solidarity is with the people in Hanau, especially with the citizens with a history of migration. The background to the crime and the perpetrator must now be carefully investigated. It is the hour of the investigators.
‘But it is also clear that the agitation against migrants, the use of anti-Semitic narratives and the contempt for the state and the media, as has been systematically practiced by the AfD for years, has fatal consequences.
‘This poisoned social climate is the breeding ground for the right-wing terrorist structures, murdering individuals and terrorist attacks such as those in Halle, Kassel and now Hanau.’
Following a conference call with Germany’s state interior ministers, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said on the basis of the investigation so far, ‘it was a right-radical xenophobic’ attack, German news agency dpa reported.
The attack was quickly and broadly condemned by many organizations, including the Central Council of Muslims, the Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Germany, and the Central Council of Jews.
Merkel pledged that ‘everything will be done to investigate the circumstances of these terrible murders.’
In unusually plain words, the German leader said: ‘Racism is a poison. Hatred is a poison.’
‘This poison exists in our society and its is responsible for far too many crimes,’ she added, citing the killings committed by a far-right gang known as the NSU, the fatal shooting last year of a regional politician from her party, and the attack on a synagogue in Halle in October.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the consulate in Frankfurt and the embassy in Berlin were trying to obtain obtain information about the attack, including the possibility that some of the victims were Turkish.
‘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.
Forensic experts working around a damaged car that was covered emergency blankets and left with glass scattered around it after a shooting in Hanau
Forensic experts dressed in white overalls searching the area and in shrubberies after a bloodbath in the city of Hanau
Hunting: Forensic experts working to find clues after gun attacks at two shisha bars in Germany last night
Nine people were killed and six were injured in shootings in the German city of Hanau on Wednesday night, authorities said
There is a heavy police presence in Hanau this evening after a double shooting
Police forensic officers stand near the scene. Heavily armed police sealed off two streets where ambulances had rushed and a police helicopter hovered over the city
Heavily armed police officers with machine guns secured the area after the shooting
German Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a statement in Berlin after a shooting in Hanau on Wednesday night
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.
In the video, the dark-haired speaker wearing a white button-down shirt under a suit jacket, said he was delivering a ‘personal message to all Americans’ that ‘your country is under control of invisible secret societies.’
In a slow and deliberate voice, in accented English, he says there are ‘deep underground military bases’ in which ‘they abuse, torture and kill little children.’
He makes no reference to the far-right fringe QAnon movement in the U.S., but the missive is similar to the movement’s central, but baseless belief that U.S. President Donald Trump is waging a secret campaign against enemies in the ‘deep state’ and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals.
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 violen
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