A gunman has killed nine people in two apparently racially motivated shootings at shisha bars and one at his home in the German town of Hanau, police have said.
The suspect then killed himself, according to police, after also killing his mother at his home.
Investigators believe a racist motive was behind the attack, Peter Beuth, the interior minister for the state of Hessen, said. Our current insights give enough ground for a xenophobic motive, the Christian Democratic Union politician said.
Nine people died in the attacks on the two bars at about 10pm local time (2100 GMT) on Wednesday night. Five others have life-threatening injuries, police said.
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Some of those killed were of Turkish origin, a spokesman for the Turkish presidency said. We expect German authorities to show maximum effort to enlighten this case. Racism is a collective cancer, brahim Kaln tweeted.
The killer was named by police as 43-year-old Tobias R. His surname was not given, in line with German practice.
He shot himself and his 72-year-old mother at home, police said. They also confirmed he possessed a hunting licence.
The Bild newspaper said he expressed extreme rightwing views in a letter of confession he left behind. A video in which he explained his motives is also believed to be part of the investigation. The Guardian could not confirm the details of his confession. The video was taken down from social media sites on Thursday morning, police said.
After the murders, a huge hunt was launched for the perpetrator involving dozens of armed police and a helicopter hovering above the commuter town 15 miles (25km) east of Frankfurt.
Police tweeted at about 5am local time that special police force officers had stormed the home of the alleged suspect and found him dead along with another body.
There are currently no indications of other perpetrators, police said in a statement.
Police guard the scene in front of a restaurant in central Hanau. Photograph: Michael Probst/AP
Officers sealed off and searched the terrace house in Hanaus Kesselstadt district, near the scene of one of the shootings, after following up witness statements on a getaway car.
According to local media, eight or nine shots were fired at the Midnight shisha bar on Heumarkt in the centre of the town at about 10pm. A dark vehicle was seen leaving the scene. Soon afterwards, shots were fired at a second shisha bar the Arena Bar & Café in Kurt-Schumacher-Platz in the western Kesselstadt district.
Initial reports of a third incident in the district of Lamboy were denied by police.
Ambulances and paramedics at the crime scene in Hanau near Frankfurt am Main. Photograph: Wiesbaden112/EPA
Police urged any witnesses with mobile phone footage to upload it to a police website, and appealed to them not to post the evidence on social media.
Michael Malkmus, spokesman for south-east Hessen police force, said local people helped the police track down the alleged perpetrator after seeing his car parked on the street. We came to the building after calls from people who had seen a vehicle. We IDd his number plate and matched it to his home. We sealed the area and then entered the home.
Neighbours reported hearing a huge bang as police used explosives to break down the door at 3am.
Federal prosecutors said on Thursday they were taking charge of investigating the shooting amid reports that the suspect may have had a far-right motive.
The federal prosecutors office in Karlsruhe, which handles serious crimes, said it planned to hold a news conference later on Thursday.
Map of scene
Thoughts this morning are with the people of Hanau, in whose midst this terrible crime was committed, tweeted the spokesman for the Germany chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Deep sympathy for the affected families, who are grieving for their dead, the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said. We hope with those wounded that they will soon recover.
Hanaus federal MP, Katja Leikert, called the attack a horrific scenario in a tweet in which she offered her heartfelt condolences to the victims.
The mayor of the town, Claus Kaminsky, said it was the worst evening imaginable. Hanau has a population of about 100,000.
Forensic experts work around a damaged car after the shooting. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Reports of the shooting come just days after one person was shot dead and four injured outside a Berlin music venue. The shooting in the German capital occurred last Friday near the Tempodrome, which was hosting a Turkish comedy show. The motives behind the Berlin attack have remained unclear.
Witnesses to the Hanau attack described how the gunman had randomly fired shots into the bars. One witness, Kenan Kocak, said he was waiting to hear whether his uncle, who had been in the bar, had survived. I do not know whether he has pulled through, he told the TV station NTV. Its very sad in particular that young people a young lad, and a young girl about 20, 25 years old have died. I was there with them yesterday. Someone who worked there was also taken to hospital. It looks very bad.
One man in his early 30s said he received a call from a friend who had been in one of the bars. He left a message to tell me he had been hit, the man, who was not identified, told NTV. I called him back immediately. He told me he was in an ambulance. He had a bullet in his shoulder.
Another witness who knew some of the victims said: These are people we have known for years. Its like in a film. That its happened is unimaginable. That there are people out there who are so heartless, shooting others who have done nothing wrong, he told NTV.
Other witnesses spoke of finding empty bullet casings strewn on the ground outside one of the cafes.