Hanau killing spree was ‘racist terrorist attack,’ says Germany

The deadly shooting spree in the city of Hanau this week was a terrorist attack with a racist motivation, said German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Friday.

Speaking in Berlin, Seehofer noted that it was the “third right-wing terrorist attack in just a few months.”

“Danger from right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism is very high in Germany,” Seehofer said. He rejected comparisons with left-wing and Islamist terrorism, while insisting that authorities were also on the lookout for those.

He also dismissed references to the alleged assailant’s psychological state as being responsible for the killings. “The racist motivation for this crime is in my view incontestable and cannot be relativized by anything.”

Seehofer said he had, in consultation with the interior ministers of Germany’s 16 states, agreed concrete measures to increase security on account of the possibility of imitation attacks and the emotionally charged situation.

“We will increase the police presence across the whole of Germany. We will guard sensitive sites more closely, in particular mosques,” he said. A visible police presence is usually stationed outside synagogues and other Jewish facilities in Germany.

The federal police would provide personnel and equipment to the regional forces. “And we will ensure a greater federal police presence at railway stations, airports and along the borders,” he said.

Seehofer and Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht were to conduct a press conference in Berlin later on Friday to outline security and legal measures in response to the Hanau shootings.

Earlier, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis confirmed that a Romanian was among the nine people shot and killed. According to media reports in Romania, the victim is a 23-year-old man.

Several Turks and Kurds are also reported to have been among the victims.

In response to the attack, political parties have called for the domestic intelligence services to monitor the activities of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), currently the largest opposition party in parliament.

There is, however, no proven link between the shooter and the anti-immigrant AfD. Several party members denounced the shooting on Thursday.

According to the public prosecutor, nine people of foreign descent were killed in a pair of attacks in the Hanau city centre late on Wednesday, before the alleged shooter – identified as Tobias R – returned to his home and killed himself and his 72-year-old mother.

The authorities believe he acted alone and are investigating the case as an incident of terrorism.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the attack as motivated by racism. “Racism is a poison. Hatred is a poison. And this hate exists in our society,” Merkel said in an initial reaction to the news.

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