The killing of the 20-year-old student late Saturday in the western town of Idar-Oberstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, is believed to be the first in Germany linked to the government’s coronavirus rules.
“The German government condemns this targeted killing in the strongest terms,” Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer told reporters.
“We mourn the death of this young man who was viciously shot dead.”
The unnamed suspect, a 49-year-old German man, walked to a police station the following day to turn himself in. He was arrested and has confessed to the murder.
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Ahead of Germany’s general election on Sunday the case has sparked shock and outrage across the political spectrum as fears grow that the anti-mask movement is radicalising.
An Interior Ministry spokesman told the same briefing that the killing seemed to be an “isolated case” and that the movement of opponents to measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak had grown smaller as restrictions ease.
However, he acknowledged that “some actors” in the movement appeared to have grown more extremist and potentially violent, with far-right chat rooms
playing a growing role in stoking hate.
Media reports found the killer had also been active in such chat rooms.
Germany’s “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement has emerged last year as the loudest voice against the government’s coronavirus curbs.
Its protests have at times drawn tens of thousands of demonstrators, attracting a wide mix of people including vaccine sceptics, neo-Nazis and members of the far-right AfD party.