Seehofer
© Michael Sohn / POOL / AFP
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer in Berlin on February 14, 2020.
German interior minister Horst Seehofer said Friday that police presence would be increased across the country to counter the "very high" security threat from the far-right, after a gunman killed nine people in a racist attack late Wednesday.

"The security threat from right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism is very high," Seehofer said at a press conference in Berlin.

He also announced an "increased police presence" and "increased surveillance" at mosques, train stations, airports and borders.

Right-wing extremism, Seehofer said, was the "biggest security threat facing Germany," and one which had left "a trail of blood" behind it in recent months.

Germany has already taken several measures to combat right-wing extremism after a string of violent incidents over the last year.

Last June, pro-migrant politician Walter Luebcke was murdered, while October brought an attack on a synagogue in the eastern city of Halle.

Suspects in both cases have ties to the far-right scene.

Seehofer said he was not calling for more police officers or further laws, but rather "a greater use of the options already available to us."

Sitting to his right, Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said the government would examine in detail how firearms could end up in the hands of "extremists."

Yet both Seehofer and Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht underlined the difficulty of detecting attackers who act alone, as the key suspect in the Hanau shootings appeared to have done.

"Despite all our efforts, we cannot completely rule out such terrible crimes," said Seehofer.


Comment: That's true, so people might want to think twice about the measures introduced in order to try to prevent them. There will always be crazy people. But once increased government power comes into force, it's just as hard to get rid of, and has wider consequences. Perhaps politicians like Seehofer should spend more time focusing on the root issues, and not the symptoms.


Federal police chief Holger Muench, meanwhile, warned that "around half" of those who carry out such attacks were previously unknown to the authorities.

A 43-year-old 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.

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.