The city of Vienna was shaken last night by a series of shootings. Four people were left dead, two men and two women. Seventeen others were wounded, some seriously.
The shooting ocurred at at least six different locations around the iconic city. As Viennna was preparing to go into another lockdown, the Viennese were enjoying their last hours of relative freedom. Bars, cafes and restaurants were full on Monday evening, near Vienna’s Seitenstettengasse synagogue, as gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons.
It is unclear whether the synagogue was a target. Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said that the synagogue was closed at the time the attack began. The number of assailants is also unclear. One man, described by Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer as an “Islamist terrorist” was shot dead by police. Mr Nehammer, at a press conference, said that at least one other gunman is at large and is “heavily armed and dangerous”. Describing the gunman who was killed by police, as an Islamic State sympathiser, Mr Nehammer advised that the gunman’s home had been raided and video material had been seized. The gunman had been wearing a fake explosive belt, Austrian police said. The man had previously been sentenced by the Austrian courts to 22 months in prison for attempting to go to Syria to join in the Islamic State’s campaign.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said it was a “repulsive terror attack”. “Our police will act decisively against the perpetrators of this hideous terrorist attack. We will never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism,” he said.The attacks began at about 8pm, as Austrians prepared theselves for a midnight curfew aimed at halting the rise in Covid-19 cases. Shortly after reports of the shootings began to come in, a huge police operation swung into action. Routes out of the city were closed. Seaches are continuing for any further gunmen.
Three days of national mourning have been declared and it was announced that schools will remain closed today in Vienna. The army has been engaged to protect public building and possible targets while the police investigation continues.
President Macron sent his sympathies to the people of Vienna. “We, the French people, share the shock and grief of the Austrian people, struck this evening by an attack in the heart of their capital, Vienna. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with,” Mr Macron said.