VIENNA (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked six locations in central Vienna on Monday and started outside the main synagogue, killing two people and injuring at least 14, which Austria claimed was one or the other on the loose. Said “repulsive terrorist attack” while hunting more attackers.
Witnesses said the men fired at crowds in bars with automatic rifles, as many took advantage of the previous evening, as the nationwide curfew was triggered by COVID-19. Police shot and killed an attacker.
The police sealed most of Vienna’s historic center, urging the public to shelter everywhere. Many took refuge in bars and hotels, while public transport was shut down throughout the old city and police searched the city.
“This is the toughest day for Austria in many years. We are dealing with a terrorist attack seriously, thank God we have not experienced in Austria in many years, ”Interior Minister Karl Nehmer told a news conference.
The Austrian capital has so far carried out a number of deadly terrorist attacks in recent years, including Paris, London, Berlin and Brussels. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the “repulsive” act was “certainly a terrorist attack”, but he could not say what the motive was.
Oscar Diction, head of the Jewish community of Vienna, whose office is on a narrow closet street dug with bars. here It was not clear whether the temples or offices were targeted, but they were closed at that time.
Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told LBC Radio in London that he was living on the premises of the synagogue. “Upon hearing the shots, we looked through the windows (below) and saw gunmen firing at guests of various bars and pubs,” he said.
“The gunmen were running around and shooting at least 100 rounds or more in front of our building,” he said.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs said that the border investigation was being put on hold and children would not have to come to school on Tuesday. However, people were urged to tell Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig that the broadcaster ORF would go to the city as usual on Tuesday, even though the police presence was very difficult.
“According to what we currently know, at least one criminal is still on the run,” Nehmer said.
“We have brought together several Special Forces units which are now looking for presumed terrorists. So I am not limiting it to one area in Vienna, because these are mobile criminals, ”Nehmer previously told ORF.
Kurz said the military would protect sites in the capital so that police could focus on counter-terrorism operations. Speaking to ORF, he said the attackers were “very well equipped with automatic weapons” and were “professionally prepared”.
Video circulated on social media of a gunman shooting and screaming at a Cobblestone street. A man outside showed a man firing a gun, which appears once on the street which is the bar at the synagogue’s street residence. Reuters could not immediately verify the video.
Top officials of the European Union, France, Norway, Greece and the United States expressed condolences from around the world, condoling the attacks.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has seen two fatal knife attacks in Paris and Nice in recent weeks, issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow.
“This is our Europe,” he said. “Our enemies should know with whom they are working. We will not back down. “
French authorities have stepped up security since the attacks in Paris and Nice, which suspected Islamist motives. Macron has deployed thousands of soldiers to protect sites such as places of worship and schools, and ministers have warned that other Islamic terrorist attacks may occur.
Robert O’Brien, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, said Americans were praying for the people of Vienna.
“There is no justification for hate and violence in this way. We stand with Austria, France and the whole of Europe in the fight against terrorism, ”O’Brien said.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he condemned the “horrific terrorist attack”, saying “we must unite against hate and violence.”
In 1981, two people were killed and 18 were injured during an attack by two Palestinians in the same Vienna Synagogue. In 1985, a Palestinian extremist group killed three civilians in an attack at the airport.
Nehmer is scheduled to hold a news conference on Tuesday at 6 am (0500 GMT) on the situation.
Reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna, Michael Shields and Silke Koltrowitz in Zurich, Andrea Schaal in Washington, Mark Bendike in London; Writing by Rosalba O’Brien; Editing by Howard Goller, Nick Tattersall and Gerry Doyle