World, Europe

Eyewitnesses recall terror attack in Germany’s Hanau

Everyone was in shock, everything happened in matter of seconds, says eyewitness

Mesut Zeyrek  | 21.02.2020 - Update : 22.02.2020
Eyewitnesses recall terror attack in Germany’s Hanau Susanna Kopec, a Polish national living at the building opposite the cafe, where the attack happened.

HANAU, Germany

Eyewitnesses recalled the Wednesday night’s horrendous terror attack in Germany’s western town of Hanau -- where a far-right extremist killed at least nine people, including four with Turkish roots.

Ozkan Rutbil -- the owner of a kiosk, located opposite to one of the cafes where the racist terrorist attack took place -- told Anadolu Agency they run to the site of the terror attack after hearing gunshots, but they could not catch the attacker.

Ozkan Rutbil

At the time of the attack, Rutbil said, he was chatting with a friend in front of his kiosk, a few meters away from the scene.He stated that he could not forget the horror of the night and that he is still shaken by the attack.

“My brother-in-law works for that cafe. And the place was owned by my beloved friend, Sedat Gurbuz, who died in the attack,” Rutbil noted.

“While we were chatting, we heard the first gunshot. We rushed to the scene. When we entered the cafe, my brother Sedat was on the floor covered in blood,” he remembered.

“Everyone was in shock. My brother-in-law was in shock. Everything happened in just a matter of seconds,” he said.

Rutbil claimed the person shown on German television was not the attacker they saw at the scene.

“We saw the attacker from the back while he was running away, but I have to say this, the person they show on television is not the same person we saw. I'm very sure of that [...] Even if I didn’t see his face, I’m certain the person shown is not the person that shot our friends and brothers,” he added.

No safety

Rutbil also said there are nearly 30,000 Turkish migrants in the city and it is the first time such an attack took place.

He also said the attacker had been posting on Facebook about his views, but authorities didn’t take any measures.

“It was obvious that he had a gun in his home,” Rutbil said, adding the authorities could have prevented the incident but they failed to do so.

“They came today, they said 'we condemn terrorism', they laid two wreaths and left. Even if not tomorrow, not here, there will definitely be another attack at some other place [...] These [racist attacks] have been happening for years, which one have they solved so far?” Rutbil questioned.


Susanna Kopec, a Polish national living at the building opposite the cafe, said she along with her boyfriend shot videos of the scene soon after the attack and posted them on social media. “They [videos] had a great impact.”

Susanna Kopec

“We heard something outside at around 22.00 p.m. [2100GMT]. Then my boyfriend opened the window to check what is happening outside. There were people rushing out of the Midnight bar […] Police came just two minutes later,” said Kopec, recalling the moments of the incident.

“It is just sad that a number of people died [...] It happened due to racism,” she added.

On Wednesday night, a 43-year-old far-right extremist attacked two shisha cafes in the western town of Hanau, killing nine people with migration background and wounding six others.

The perpetrator, identified by the authorities as Tobias R., posted a manifesto on the internet detailing his racist views and plans for ethnic cleansing.

It was the third major terrorist attack committed by a far-right extremist in Germany in the last several months.

Last week, the police dismantled a far-right terror cell and arrested 12 suspects over plans to attack six mosques to provoke a civil-war-like situation in the country.

Germany has witnessed growing racism and Islamophobia in recent years, fueled by the propaganda of neo-Nazi groups and the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

A country of over 80 million people, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, 3 million are of Turkish origin.

*Writing by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak

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