German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Friday condemned twin shootings at hookah bars in Hanau as “a clearly racially motivated terror attack.”
In a press conference, he warned that authorities should be braced for imitator attacks, pointing out this was the “third far-right attack in a few months.”
He announced increased police presence all over Germany, especially in mosques, train stations, airports and at borders.
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Far-right attacks ‘greatest threat’ to Germany
Seehofer also disagreed with center-left Social Democrat Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, who identified far-right attacks as the “greatest threat to our democracy.” Seehofer said he “could not accept,” that statement.
“Far-left attacks are also a great danger,” he said.
Lambrecht added that Thursday was a “day of great mourning,” and announced plans for new legislation against hate crimes.
“We do not want to leave the victims and their relatives alone at this time,” she added, stressing that German authorities had set up a 24-hour hotline for any who have questions.
Seehofer had announced extra security in Hanau on a visit to the Hesse town on Thursday.
What happened in Hanau?
Police reported that a gunman killed nine people in two different hookah bars in Hanau on February 19. Five Turkish nationals were among those killed. The suspect was found dead hours later at home, along with the body of his 72-year-old mother, in what appeared to be a murder-suicide.
A letter of confession written by the suspect and a video in which he espouses far-right ideology were also found. Federal prosecutors said they had taken charge of the case due to its likely extremist motivation.
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“Today is the day we must show that we will hold together. We won’t be intimidated,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel called racism and hate “a poison in society.” Thousands gathered for vigils to honor the victims on Thursday evening.
ed/rt (dpa, AFP)