At least eight people were killed in two shooting incidents late on Wednesday in the German city of Hanau, police said.

Police special units are chasing an unknown number of perpetrators, who fled the scene of the attack in the city of about 90,000 people east of Frankfurt.


According to local media reports, three people were killed in front of the first bar and five in front of the second.

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Heavily armed police sealed off two streets in the city of Hanau, where ambulances had rushed to, while a police helicopter hovered over the city.

Public broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk earlier reported that the first shots were fired at a shisha bar in the city centre, with witnesses saying they had heard eight or nine shots.

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Forensic experts are seen outside one of the two shisha bars earmarked in the late-night attack on Wednesday [Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters]

The report said that the perpetrators then drove to the western neighbourhood of Kesselstadt before they started shooting again at another shisha bar.

A third reported shooting in the northern neighbourhood of Lamboy was not confirmed, but a large police contingent was in the area, the DPA news agency reported.

According to a spokesman of the prosecutor’s office, there were no casualties in the area.

‘Terrible evening’

Claus Kaminsky, the mayor of Hanau, said it was “an evening that you can hardly imagine being any worse.”

“It was a terrible evening, that will surely occupy us for a long, long time and stay with us in sad memories,” he said in comments he made to an online broadcast from Bild newspaper.

Kaminsky did not give any more details or shine any light on possible motives for the shootings.

Katja Leikert, a parliamentarian for the Hanau constituency, wrote on social media that it was a “true horror scenario for us all.”

The motive for the shootings remains unclear.

Police have set up a hotline for members of the public with information that could lead to the suspects.

Germany has had several violent attacks in recent years one of which killed 12 people in the heart of Berlin in December 2016.

Far-right attacks have become a particular concern for German authorities.

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Germany has had several violent attacks in recent years one of which killed 12 people in the heart of Berlin in December 2016 [Michael Probst/AP]

In October, a deadly anti-Jewish gun attack in the eastern city of Halle on the holy day of Yom Kippur underscored the rising threat of neo-Nazi violence. The rampage, in which two people were shot dead, was streamed live.

Last June conservative politician Walter Luebcke, an advocate of a liberal refugee policy, was shot at his home.

On Friday police arrested 12 members of a German far-right group believed to have been plotting “shocking” large-scale attacks on mosques similar to the ones carried out in New Zealand last year.