Hundreds of people have gathered in the town of Waechtersbach to condemn racist violence after an Eritrean man was shot by a German national “due to the colour of his skin”, according to police.
Anti-migrant sentiment has been on the rise in Germany over the past few years [File: EPA]
Alexander Badle, a spokesman for Frankfurt’s state prosecutors, said on Tuesday that authorities “are currently working on the assumption of a very clear xenophobic motive”.
The perpetrator, who later shot himself in the head, appeared to have chosen his victim at random, the spokesman added.
Police on Monday found the “apparently lifeless” body of the suspected shooter in a car in a neighbouring town. He was later declared dead in hospital.
A search of the suspect’s car and home revealed two legally owned semi-automatic weapons and confirmed suspicions of a racist motive, German’s state-funded public broadcaster Deutsche Welle quoted police as saying.
But investigators were not able to link the 55-year-old shooter to any particular far-right nationalist group.
“We have no valid evidence that there were contacts to the right-wing nationalist or far-right scene,” said a police spokesman, emphasising that the investigations were still ongoing.
Meanwhile, about 400 people attended a vigil at the crime scene on Tuesday evening as others held a protest against far-right violence in Germany.
In a joint statement, the town’s leaders including Mayor Andreas Weiher said people were invited to “think of the victim and his family, and send a signal against racist violence”.
A 2018 report by Germany’s domestic intelligence service recorded a small rise in the number of far-right supporters and the number of far-right violent crimes in Germany.
According to the report, Germany had 24,100 right-wing extremists in 2018 – 100 more than in 2017 – of whom 12,700 were considered prone to perpetrating violence.
Anti-migrant sentiment has been on the rise in Germany over the past few years.
The Alternative for Germany (AfD) party became the first far-right nationalist movement to enter the German parliament since World War II, after winning 12.6 percent of the vote in Germany’s federal election in 2017.