Monday night’s terrorist attack in Vienna claimed at least three lives. At least fifteen people have been injured. One of the perpetrators was shot by the police and at least one suspect is still a fugitive. According to Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, the murdered perpetrator was an Islamist and IS sympathizer.
Shots started at synagogue in popular entertainment district
The murdered suspect was heavily armed and was wearing a bomb belt that was fake according to the Vienna police. According to Viennese mayor Michael Ludwig, he not only carried a rifle, but also a hand gun and machete. According to him, the perpetrator was “very well prepared”. The police know who he was and are searching his house.
Police soon reported that one person had died. Ludwig later said to the Austrian public broadcaster ORF that a woman died of her injuries in hospital. Tuesday morning it was announced that a third person has died. At least 15 injured people are treated in hospital, including one seriously injured. An injured officer is no longer in danger of death.
On Monday evening, shots were fired at six different places in Vienna’s old town. The shootings began around 8 p.m. in the immediate vicinity of a synagogue, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.
Nothing is yet known about the motive of the perpetrators. It is not clear whether the synagogue was a target. The building, which was closed during the attack, is in a popular entertainment district with many cafes and restaurants. It was busy on Monday evening, because from Tuesday there is a curfew throughout Austria to prevent the spread of the corona virus. Many people took advantage of their freedom to be on the street in the evening and sat on the many terraces.
According to Minister Nehammer, at least one more perpetrator is on the run. He warned Monday evening that a manhunt for several alleged perpetrators is underway and that they are “heavily armed and dangerous”. “We have brought together several special forces who are now looking for the suspected terrorists,” said Nehammer.
The minister of the interior hinted that the perpetrators may have fled the capital. He insisted to stay indoors until authorities say it is safe on the streets again.
Austria immediately stepped up border security. The Czech police have also decided to switch to additional border controls. The Czech authorities have also decided to give extra security to Jewish institutions.
Nehammer urged to avoid the center of Vienna for the time being. The city center is largely closed off. Public transport in the relevant district has been shut down. He also said that Viennese children do not have to go to school on Tuesday.
Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz has called the series of shootings a “horrific act of terrorism”. Kurz also reported via his Twitter account that the army is taking over the surveillance of some places in the Austrian capital, so that the police can fully focus on the manhunt for the fugitive perpetrators.
The prime minister told the Austrian public broadcaster ORF that the threat is undiminished. “It is definitely a terrorist attack,” said Kurz, who does not rule out an anti-Semitic motive. “Whether it is possible to resume public life tomorrow morning will strongly depend on the current night and whether it is possible to catch or eliminate the suspects,” said the prime minister.