Wien Several people were killed and injured in a suspected terrorist attack in downtown Vienna on Monday evening. This was confirmed by a spokesman for the Vienna rescue service of the Austrian news agency APA. The Vienna police tweeted that a passer-by had been killed and several people were seriously injured, including a police officer. The spokesman for the Vienna Health Association, Christoph Mierau, told the Austrian news agency APA that 15 injured had been admitted to hospitals. At least seven of the victims were seriously injured.
Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said on ORF that it was apparently a terrorist attack. “The attack is still ongoing,” said Nehammer at around 9.45pm. It is difficult to say more precisely at this moment. The police tweeted that several perpetrators with long guns were involved in the attack. Austria’s Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz announced on Twitter that the army would immediately take over the protection of property in Vienna. This should allow the police to concentrate fully on the fight against terrorism. He speaks of a “disgusting terrorist attack”.
Vienna’s mayor Michael Ludwig said on ORF that there was still “no reliable information” about the background. Ludwig explained that in the attack “people in the pubs” were shot at random – especially those who were sitting outside. It cannot be estimated at the moment whether there are “further dangers”. He also said that one of the attackers may have been wearing an explosives belt. There is this assumption. “We will soon know more whether it was such an explosive belt,” said the politician.
At around 8 p.m., shots were fired “from the Seitenstettengasse area”. The APA, citing the Ministry of the Interior, reported that there had been an arrest and that possible other perpetrators were being searched. According to a ministry spokeswoman, a police officer was shot and seriously injured in the exchange of fire near Schwedenplatz.
One perpetrator was shot dead by the police. There were at least six crime scenes. There is a synagogue very close to one of the crime scenes. Videos broadcast by private broadcaster “Oe24” on Monday evening showed a masked shooter who fired at least two shots on the street. Another video showed a large pool of blood outside a restaurant.
Florian Klenk, editor-in-chief of the Viennese weekly newspaper “Falter”, wrote on Twitter that police radio even reported seven deaths. Officially, however, this could not be confirmed. He further wrote: “A video is circulating and it is very clear: man with a rifle, beard, riot gear. That was probably an assassination attempt. “
Unclear whether the destination was synagogue
It has not yet been confirmed whether the nearby synagogue was the target of the attack, the spokeswoman said. The background was initially unclear. An ORF reporter reported that large parts of the city center were cordoned off and the police were looking for any other perpetrators.
The chairman of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde, Oskar Deutsch, wrote on Twitter that it could not be said at the moment whether the city temple was one of the targets. “What is certain, however, is that both the synagogue in Seitenstettengasse and the office building at the same address were no longer in operation and closed at the time of the first shots.”
Rabbi Shlomo Hofmeister told the AP news agency that he had seen at least one person who fired shots at people sitting outside bars in the street under his window. There were at least 100 shots. He referred to the corona restrictions in Austria that will apply from tomorrow, Tuesday: Many people would have wanted to use the last evening before the lockdown to go out.
Google marks crime scene with warning signs
The police called on citizens to avoid public places. “We are working with all possible forces. Please avoid all public places in the city area, “it said on Twitter. It was also asked not to upload any videos or photos. “DO NOT post videos and photos on social media, this endangers both emergency services and civilians!”
According to the police, there are currently no public transport stops in downtown Vienna. “Stay safe, leave public places immediately,” tweeted the police in the Austrian capital on Monday evening.
Google marked one of the crime scenes with a warning sign. On Seitenstettengasse at Schwedenplatz, a red exclamation mark with the inscription “Vienna – incident” was displayed in the Google map service. The police had previously tweeted that shots had been fired right there around 8 p.m.
The Austrian news agency APA reported that the police were asking people to leave the city center. “Leave the first district!”, Heavily armed police officers in protective gear shouted to cyclists, walkers and passers-by.
In contrast to other European metropolises, Vienna has been spared attacks in recent years. In 1975 and 1981, however, the city experienced two large attacks with several deaths on the Opec and the city synagogue in Seitenstettengasse.
Foreign Ministry warns of an unclear situation in Vienna
In its travel advice for Austria, the Foreign Ministry warns of the unclear situation after the alleged terrorist attack in Vienna. “In the area of downtown Vienna there were several exchanges of fire on the evening of November 2nd, the situation is still unclear, there are barriers,” said the notes on Monday evening. It was recommended that you follow the news and look out for information from the Home Office.
Basically, due to the corona pandemic, a travel warning currently applies to almost all of Austria. With the exception of two small exclaves, the country was declared a corona risk area by the federal government on Friday.
The Foreign Office also condemned the attack on Twitter. “Even if the extent of the terror is not yet foreseeable: our thoughts are with the injured and victims in these difficult hours,” says a message published by the German Foreign Ministry on Twitter. “We must not give way to the hatred that is supposed to divide our societies.”
Expressions of solidarity from Europe
Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz wrote on Twitter of “appalling news”, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier declared: “The terrorist attack in Vienna shook us deeply.” SPD chairman Norbert Walter-Borjans spoke of “shocking news” on Twitter. “Whatever the motive and whoever the perpetrator might be. Such acts deserve ostracism, zero tolerance and all the harshness of the law. ”FDP leader Christian Lindner tweeted:“ Our thoughts are in #Wien ”. The Federal Managing Director of the Greens, Michael Kellner, wrote in a tweet: “This is just terrible – with the thoughts in #Vienna. Together against anti-Semitism ”.
“We, French, share the shock and grief of the Austrians after an attack in Vienna,” said President Emmanuel Macron’s Twitter account in German. Macron had promised Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz full solidarity and support from France and offered help if it was necessary, according to the presidential palace in Paris.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also condemned the alleged attack. “In our common European house there must be no place for hatred and violence,” wrote Conte on Twitter. Italy stand by the Austrian people. The country thinks of the families of the victims and the injured. Rome’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio made a similar statement. “Europe must react,” he wrote.
EU Council President Charles Michel condemned the alleged terrorist attack as a cowardly act against life and human values ”My thoughts are with the victims and the people in Vienna after the terrible attack tonight,” said Michel. Europe is on the side of Austria. EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen, EU Parliament President David Sassoli and EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell made similar statements. Sassoli commented: “We are following the news of another attack in Europe with sadness and horror.” Borrell spoke of a “cowardly act of violence and hatred”. Von der Leyen assured Austria of solidarity and also wrote: “We are stronger than hatred and terror.”
“We are currently experiencing difficult times in our republic. I would like to thank all the emergency services who risk their lives, especially today for our security, ”wrote Austria’s Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. “The whole country is in thoughts with the victims, injured and their relatives, to whom I express my deepest sympathy.” Kurz also thanked the EU leaders and other heads of state who had already expressed their sympathy after the attack on Monday evening.
The Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen assured the victims of his support. “We are all deeply affected,” said the head of state on Twitter. Thoughts and compassion are with the victims, injured and their families, he tweeted. The Federal President emphasized: “We will defend our freedom and democracy together and resolutely by all means.” He is in an exchange with the government. At the same time, Van der Bellen thanked other heads of state and government for the assistance.