Thousands of people gathered for candlelight vigils in about 50 German cities on Thursday evening, after a gunman killed 11 people including himself, and injured several others in a rampage with suspected far-right motives.In the city of Hanau, where the shooting occurred, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told crowds that Germans and foreigners should unite to defeat racism."We are mourning, we are taking part in vigils and we see that we are united both in our mourning and against racism and violence," Steinmeier said Thursday after laying a wreath outside one of the bars where the shootings happened.
Police are investigating online materials written by the suspected shooter, a 43-year-old German national who is thought to have held a number of right-wing views.On Friday, hundreds of flocking to prayers in the mosques of Hanau. German and Turkish flags flew at half-staff outside a mosque where worshippers were gathering, according to the Associated pressGermany's top security official said authorities would step up the police presence throughout the country and keep a closer watch on mosques and other sites, in a first reaction to the rampage.Turkish officials have said five of the victims were Turkish nationals. Germany's federal prosecutor, Peter Frank, said all nine people killed were of migrant origin, according to the AP.Turkey's Foreign Ministry said the Hanau shootings were a call to action, not just in the town but across Europe."The indifference shown in Europe to the fight against rising xenophobia has led to new attacks being added every day," the ministry said in a statement Friday.The Confederation of the Communities of Kurdistan in Germany said several victims were Kurdish and accused Germany's political leaders of "not resolutely opposing right-wing networks and right-wing terrorism."Bild, the country's biggest-selling newspaper, wrote on its front page: "We need new and stricter laws to regularly and thoroughly check owners of hunting and firearm licenses."German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in Berlin on Thursday morning."There are many indications at the moment that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist, racist motives, out of hatred toward people of other origins, religion or appearance," she said."Racism is poison, hatred is poison and this poison exists in society, and it is to blame for too many crimes."The incident comes as Germany is on high alert over concerns about the rise of the far-right groups. Germany's far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has disrupted the final stages of Merkel's four-term chancellorship.