On Monday night, terrorists opened fire at six different locations in central Vienna. The attack which left at least four people dead and more than seventeen others wounded has been described as “Islamist terrorist” by the country’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer.
It was reported that the shootings took place few hours to the midnight of the nationwide lockdown, imposed in Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus. According to the BBC News, two of those who died in the random shooting were women and two were men. One of the women was reportedly a waitress. The second woman died of her wounds in hospital overnight.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said “the country has become the victim of a disgusting terror attack that is still going on” and has called the troops to ensure the security of Austria’s official buildings, allowing police to “concentrate fully on the fight against terror.” While addressing the newsmen, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said the attacker was “Islamic State (IS) sympathiser” who was heavily armed and was killed by the police. He stressed further that his home had been searched and video material seized.
Reports from the police
According to the police report, the shooting started at about 20:00 (19:00 GMT) in an area closer to Seitenstettengasse synagogue. The situation was intense with several “exchanges of shots” and one policeman was badly wounded while exchanging fire with the attacker who was heavily armed with guns.
Peace was restored to the area few hours later as more than 150 special police officers and 100 regular duty officers were deployed alongside the crisis team from the Interior Ministry who are overseeing the response.
It could be recalled that three people died in a knife attack in a church in the French city of Nice last week, few days after a teacher was beheaded for opening a class debate on free speech by showing students caricatures of the prophet of Islam. The attacks which are widely condemned are thought to be unconnected with the recent terror in Austria. Although no terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the shootings but people are with opinion that it could be in retaliation to the claim by French President Emmanuel Macron that “Islam is in crisis.”
Many European leaders have condemned the recent shootings in Vienna. The UK government said their country stand united against terror and ready to support Austria in any way.
US President Donald Trump in his tweet described the incident as “another vile act of terrorism in Europe”.
“These evil attacks against innocent people must stop. The US stands with Austria, France, and all of Europe in the fight against terrorists,” he tweeted
French President Emmanuel Macron in his reaction said Europe must not “give up” in the face of attacks.
“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,” he said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the shooting “a heinous act” and expressed “solidarity” with Austria.