BERLIN – At least eight people were killed and five injured in two shooting attacks in a town in western Germany on Wednesday night, police authorities said as they launched a large-scale hunt for the perpetrators.
Police said they could not provide details on the motivation for the attack in Hanau, about 15 miles east of Frankfurt, but German news reports said the shootings targeted two hookah cafes.
Shots were fired at two different locations in the town around 10 p.m., police said, adding that authorities were searching for “unknown perpetrators.” A dark vehicle was seen driving away from the scene of the first shooting in the town center, authorities said. They appealed for witnesses to come forward.
That first shooting took place at a hookah bar called “Midnight,” according to German news reports. Three people were shot dead there, local broadcaster Hessenschau reported, adding that a total of eight or nine shots were fired.
Shortly thereafter, five people were shot dead in the Kesselstadt area just west of the town center, it said. Images from the scene showed police cordons and an ambulance outside the Arena Bar and Cafe. Behind the red police tape, at least one car was visible, covered in thermal foil with its windows shattered.
A police spokesman said that he could not provide any information on arrests after reports that a suspect had been detained and after one man was photographed handcuffed and in police custody near the scene of one of the shootings.
“The search for the perpetrators is still ongoing,” said Henry Faltin, a spokesman for the police force in southern Hesse. On whether a far-right link was suspected, he said the motivations are “not yet clear.”
German police this week said they had arrested 12 members of a far-right group planning attacks on mosques and targets associated with refugees and migrants.
As authorities continued their investigation overnight, police urged the public to refrain from circulating unverified videos, texts and voice messages, saying that “speculation does not help us any further.”
Katja Leikert, who represents the Hanau district in Germany’s national parliament, the Bundestag, called the shooting a “horrific scenario.”
“On this terrible night in Hanau I send those close to the victims all my strength and heartfelt condolences,” she said on Twitter, as translated by the German outlet Deutsche Welle. “Hopefully the injured recover swiftly. It is a horrific scenario for us all. Thanks to emergency services.”
Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky told the Bild newspaper that it was “barely possible to imagine a worse evening.”
“This was a terrible evening,” he said, “that I am sure we will be dealing with and remembering with sadness for a long, long time.”
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Thebault reported from Washignton.