Two shootings in the western German city of Hanau late Wednesday left eight people dead and five others injured, local police said.
The shootings took place at approximately 10 p.m. local time (2000 GMT/UTC) at two shisha bars in different parts of the city, according to local media.
The perpetrators reportedly opened fire at the first shisha bar in Hanau’s downtown, killing three people. They then drove to the neighborhood of Kesselstadt and opened fire at the second shisha bar, where five people died.
Authorities have sealed off the area while special forces search for the suspects, who are said to have fled the scene.
“The search for the perpetrators is in full swing,” a police spokesman said.
The motive behind the incident was not clear. But a police statement urged citizens who may have information to contact law enforcement.
However, the south east Hessen police force also urged people to refrain from spreading unverified information, saying “speculation does not help us.”
Speaking to DW’s Rebecca Staudenmaier in Hanau, 49-year-old Ali Mengücek recounted the events before the shootings.
Mengücek, who has lived in the area for the last 40 years, said he was walking home with his two children when he saw four men — “all quite tall and fairly young,” perhaps 40 or under.
He said they were standing in groups of two, about 30 meters apart . He walked in between them, telling his two girls to pick up the pace.
“I live about 50 meters past where they were standing. When I got home and shut the door, then I heard the six shots. I believe this was six or seven minutes after I had walked past with my two little children. I then opened the window, people were running back and forth and screaming. Within about five minutes, police were on the scene,” Mengücek said.
About two hours later he spotted ammunition on the road and reported it to the police.
Senior CDU politician Katja Leikert, who represents the Hanau constituency in the national Bundestag parliament, offered condolences to those affected and thanks to the first responders.
“On this terrible night in Hanau I send those close to the victims all my strength and heartfelt condolences. Hopefully the injured recover swiftly. It is a horrific scenario for us all. Thanks to emergency services,” Leikert said.
Speaking on a special “Bild live” show set up by the major German newspaper of the same name, the mayor of Hanau, Social Democrat Claus Kaminsky said it was “barely possible to imagine a worse evening.”
“This was a terrible evening that I am sure we will be dealing with and remembering with sadness for a long, long time,” he said.
Kaminsky also said that he had no further information on possible suspects or a motive behind the shootings.
Hanau is a city of 100,000 inhabitants in the state of Hesse, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of Frankfurt. (Courtesy Deutsche Welle)