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Germany tightens security at mosques, other sites after far-right shootings

A police car is seen behind flowers placed at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Hanau shooting in front of a shisha bar in Hanau near Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on February 21, 2020. - Thousands of people took part in vigils across Germany on February 20, 2020, after a gunman with apparent far-right beliefs killed nine people at a shisha bar and a cafe in the city of Hanau on February 19, 2020. The suspect, a 43-year-old German, was found dead at his home after the rampage along with his 72-year-old mother in what appeared to be a murder-suicide.
A police car is seen behind flowers placed at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Hanau shooting in front of a shisha bar in Hanau near Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on February 21, 2020. - Thousands of people took part in vigils across Germany on February 20, 2020, after a gunman with apparent far-right beliefs killed nine people at a shisha bar and a cafe in the city of Hanau on February 19, 2020. The suspect, a 43-year-old German, was found dead at his home after the rampage along with his 72-year-old mother in what appeared to be a murder-suicide. © Odd Andersen, AFP

Germany's top security official said Friday that authorities will step up the police presence throughout the country and keep a closer watch on mosques and other sites after the racially motivated shootings that killed nine people.  

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A 43-year-old German man fatally shot the victims of immigrant backgrounds in the Frankfurt suburb of Hanau on Wednesday night before killing his mother and himself. The man, identified as Tobias Rathjen, left a number of rambling texts and videos espousing racist views and claiming to have been under surveillance since birth.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said state-level security officials and security agencies he consulted Thursday agreed to increase the law enforcement presence around the country. Seehofer said there would be more surveillance at “sensitive sites," including mosques, and a high police presence at railway stations, airports and borders.

The attack came amid mounting concern about far-right extremism reflected in earlier attacks and the rise of the anti-migrant party Alternative for Germany, or AfD.

Thousands of people gathered in cities across Germany on Thursday evening to hold vigils for the shooting victims as calls grew for authorities to crack down on far-right extremism.

A top official in the center-left Social Democratic Party, a junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition, accused AfD of providing ideological fodder to people like the Hanau shooter.

“One person carried out the shooting in Hanau, that's what it looks like, but there were many that supplied him with ammunition, and AfD definitely belongs to them,” Lars Klingbeil told German public broadcaster ARD on Friday.

Parts of Alternative for Germany already were under close scrutiny from Germany's domestic intelligence agency. The party has rejected all responsibility for far-right attacks, including an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue and the killing of a regional politician last year.

(AP)

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