A SERIAL killer who has shot nine people in broad daylight is sparking fear in the Turkish community in Germany.
Police have set up a joint investigation unit with detectives in Turkey to track down the man, dubbed the Kebab Killer, before he strikes again.
"There has never been a series of murders like this in Germany," said Wolfgang Geier, the superintendent leading the search. "The killer goes into a place, shoots and disappears without leaving a single trace - only the bullets."
All nine killings were committed with a Czech-made CZ-83 pistol and there is speculation over whether the murderer is a racist, a loner or a gangland killer. The latest victim was Halit Yozgat, 21, who ran an internet cafe with his father in Kassel, central Germany.
Three customers were hunched over their computers on April 6 when the killer entered, went behind the counter and shot Yozgat twice in the head. The customers said they heard only a muffled bang, as if a chair had fallen over, and did not look up from their screens. No one could identify the man, who used a silencer.
Two days earlier, the same pistol was used to kill Mehmet Kubasik, a 39-year-old Turkish father of three, who was alone in his newspaper and tobacco kiosk in Dortmund. Five bullets were fired into his head.
The case has become Germany's most enigmatic.
"We are clearly dealing with a cold-blooded criminal who carries out mafia-style executions," said Peter Boie, the state prosecutor in Munich.
The killings began in Nuremberg in September 2000, when Enver Sinisek, the owner of a mobile flower stand, was shot. The trail of blood spread around the country: fruit and vegetable shop owners in Hamburg and Munich, others in Rostock, as well as two further killings in Nuremberg.
One victim, the owner of a key-cutting shop in Munich, was Greek; the rest were Turkish. None was robbed.
Mr Geier said: "There seems to be no connection between the victims. All we can establish is that they seem to be small links in a much bigger chain."
The initial theory - that all were victims of a nationwide protection racket - does not seem solid. One of the dead Turks had been in Germany barely nine days and had no property in the country.
Police also doubt that the killer is a racist loner. The use of the same weapon suggests that he is sending a message to the Turkish community and is not acting at random.
"He wants to say, 'You are not safe'," said Stephan Harbort, a Dusseldorf police officer who is one of Germany's leading experts on serial murders.
Mr Geier added: "The killer's message is that, 'we will get you wherever you are - you can't hide from us'."
That suggests a background in organised crime. Police believe the killer must be operating with a support team.
So far, the only description comes from witnesses who saw two men leaving a kebab shop in Nuremberg last northern summer after the owner was shot. The pair had parked bicycles next to an advertising billboard.
German and Turkish detectives are investigating whether the victims were laundering money for Turkish drug clans operating from The Netherlands.
Source: The Australian (English)