VIENNA (Reuters) – Several gunmen opened fire at six locations in central Vienna, beginning on Monday, killing at least one person and injuring others.
A large area of central Vienna was closed. Police said a critical deployment was underway and they shot one of the suspects. He urged people to stay inside.
Interior Minister Karl Nehmer told the Austrian broadcaster ORF that the attack was believed to have been carried out by several people and that there was a central synagogue in the immediate vicinity of the street housing all six locations.
“At the moment I can confirm that we believe this is an obvious terrorist attack,” he said.
“We believe that there are many criminals. Unfortunately, many are injured, possibly dead. “
Police said on Twitter that at least one person, including a police officer, was killed and several were injured. ORF said that 15 people are being treated for injuries in Vienna hospitals and seven are in critical condition.
Authorities gave no indication of the identity of the attackers or the reason for the attack.
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 after attacks in Paris and Nice that 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.
Leader of the Jewish community, Oskar Deutsch, said on Twitter that it was unclear whether the Vienna Synagogue and surrounding offices were targets of the Vienna attack, adding that they were closed at the time.
Video circulated on social media of a gunman shooting and screaming at a Cobblestone street. Reuters could not immediately verify the video.
In 1981, two people were killed and 18 were injured during an attack by two Palestinians in the same synagogue. In 1985, a Palestinian extremist group attacked Vienna Airport with grenades and attacked rifles, killing three civilians.
In recent years, Austria has been spared as large scale attacks in Paris, Berlin and London.
In August, authorities arrested a 31-year-old Syrian refugee suspected of trying to attack a Jewish community leader in the country’s second city of Graz. The leader was uneducated.
Reporting by Francois Murphy in Washington and Andrea Schaal in Washington, written by Rosalba O’Brien, editing by Howard Goler and Nick Tattersall