BERLIN — A man opened fire on two bars in the central city of Hanau on Wednesday, where he killed nine people in what the authorities say they are handling as a far-right terror attack. The suspected gunman, a 43-year-old German, was found dead in his apartment early Thursday, along with his mother, they said.
Federal prosecutors took over the investigation on Thursday, on suspicion that the shooting had been a terrorist attack amid indications of “a far-right motive,” Peter Beuth, the interior minister for the central state of Hesse, told regional lawmakers in the state capital, Wiesbaden.
He declined to confirm reports from German news organizations that the gunman had left a video and a letter about the attack, but said that the authorities were examining a website attributed to the suspect, who had not previously been on their radar, either as a far-right extremist or a criminal.
“Initial results point to a xenophobic motive,” Mr. Beuth said.
The shooting on Wednesday in Hanau, a city of about 95,000 people that is 10 miles east of Frankfurt, was one of the bloodiest attacks in the country’s recent memory and comes at a time of growing concern about an increasingly emboldened and violent far right.
“I condemn this act in sharpest terms. It is an attack on our free and democratic society,” Mr. Beuth told state lawmakers, who gathered to hold a moment of silence for the victims before canceling their planned session. Flags on public buildings across the state were ordered lowered to half-staff.
Mr. Beuth said that the police, acting on tips from citizens and information from surveillance cameras, were able to identify the suspect within hours of the shooting late Wednesday. In the early hours of Thursday morning, special forces stormed his apartment where they found his body and that of his 72-year-old mother. Both had been shot, Mr. Beuth said.
Images from the city showed several streets still blocked off with red-and-white police tape, as officers combed the crime scenes for evidence. A school and several day care centers in the area remained closed on Thursday, the city’s mayor said on Facebook.
The two bars where the shootings took place, Midnight and Arena Cafe & Bar, were popular with young people from the city’s tight-knit Kurdish community.
An increasing number of attacks by violent far-right extremists have taken place in Germany in recent months, including the killing of a local politician who expressed support for refugees and an attack on a synagogue in Halle.
Last week, the authorities broke up a suspected far-right terrorist network, arresting 12 people, including a member of the police force.
Tarek Al Wazir, the economy minister for the state of Hesse, drew comparisons to Anders Brevik, who went on a rampage in Norway in 2011 that killed 77 people, and the attacker in Halle, saying that he believed the gunman appeared to have been self-radicalized.
“We know this from Islamic terrorism, that people radicalize over the Internet videos and in chat groups radicalize,” he told Germany’s n-tv news outlet.
The first attack took place at Midnight, a hookah bar — sometimes referred to as a shisha bar, named for the water pipes that are smoked on the premises at around 10 p.m. Shortly afterward, residents in Hanau started posting warnings on social media with the license plate number of a car urging people to remain inside their homes.
German media cited witnesses who reported seeing a vehicle fleeing from the scene, and the police later said they were searching for “a dark car” in connection with the attack.
The police said they were called to a different neighborhood in the city, and local media reported that more shots had been fired at the Arena Bar & Cafe by a gunman who then fled the scene. At least nine people were killed at the two bars, another remained in serious condition and several others were injured, Mr. Beuth said.
“Our thoughts this morning are with the people in Hanau,” Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, wrote on Twitter. “Our deepest sympathies are with the families who are mourning their dead and we hope with the injured that they will heal soon.”
“A terrible evening,” the mayor of Hanau, Claus Kaminsky, told the Bild newspaper. “It will certainly occupy us for a long, long time and it will remain in our sad memories.”
Tiffany May and Austin Ramzy contributed reporting from Hong Kong.