Berlin: A gunman opened fire on two shisha bars in the western German city of Hanau, killing at least eight people and injuring several others, police say.
The shootings took place around 22:00 (21:00 GMT) on Wednesday. In both places the clientele were reported to have been predominantly Kurdish.
The suspect then fled to his home where he was later found dead along with the body of a second person.
The motive for the attacks is unclear. An investigation is ongoing.
Police say the suspect killed himself. The Bild tabloid reports he was a German citizen with a firearms licence, and that ammunition and gun magazines were found in his car.
According to Bild, he expressed far-right views in a letter of confession and a video but this has not been confirmed officially.
German federal prosecutors, which investigate crimes including terrorism, have taken over the case. there were “signs of a xenophobic motive” for the killings.
The first incident was at the Midnight shisha bar in the city centre of Hanau, about 25km (15 miles) east of Frankfurt. Witnesses reported hearing about a dozen gunshots, and at least three people were killed.
The suspect then reportedly fled in a dark car to the Kesselstadt neighbourhood and opened fire at the Arena Bar & Cafe, where five people were killed.
Shisha bars are places where people gather to smoke a pipe known as shisha or hookah. Traditionally found in Middle Eastern and Asian countries they are also popular in many other parts of the world.
The shootings sparked a seven-hour manhunt, while officers searched for what they thought could have been more than one attacker.
“The home address was blocked off extensively and searched by special police forces. Two other bodies were found. One of the dead people is most likely the culprit,” the state police force said in a statement.
Hanau Mayor Claus Kaminsky told Bild it had been a “terrible night”, adding: “You could not imagine a worse night. It will of course keep us busy for a long, long time and remain a sad memory. I’m deeply moved.”
Can-Luca Frisenna, who works at a kiosk at the scene of one of the shootings, said his father and brother had been in the area when the attack took place.
“It’s like being in a film, it’s like a bad joke, that someone is playing a joke on us,” he told Reuters news agency. “I can’t grasp yet everything that has happened. My colleagues, all my colleagues, they are like my family – they can’t understand it either.”
Until we find out who the attacker was it is very hard to piece together why all of this happened.
Germany has had a number of terror-related attacks in recent years. But it has also seen a number of serious incidents that were initially labelled as terrorism but turned out to be linked to organised crime or some sort of family drama.
That is why people here have been very cautious about jumping to conclusions.
The fact that the shootings happened at shisha bars cannot be seen simply as a coincidence. But it is still too early to speculate what may be behind them.
Katja Leikert, who represents Hanau in the German parliament, the Bundestag, said: “Hopefully the injured recover swiftly. It is a horrific scenario for us all.”
On Twitter, Germany’s government spokesman Steffen Seibert said: “My thoughts are with the people in Hanau this morning, where an appalling crime was committed.”
This attack comes four days after another shooting in Berlin, near a Turkish comedy show at the Tempodrom concert venue, which killed one person.
Gun laws in Germany are among the most stringent in the world, and were tightened further in recent years after other mass shootings.