Several shots were fired shortly after 8 p.m. on a lively street in the Vienna city centre, Police said.
Vienna Terror Attack
Gunmen opened fire on people enjoying a last evening out in Vienna before a coronavirus lockdown. The incident happened early on Tuesday. The terror attack left at least two dead (including one of the attackers) and fifteen wounded, authorities said.
The country is forced to induce lockdown amidst other countries like India, which are slowly removing the restrictions (see: Unlock 6.0: Extended Guidelines of Unlock 5.0).
It remains unclear of how many assailants were involved in the assault.
Austrian Chancellor’s Words on Vienna Terror Attack
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described it as a “repulsive terror attack”. “I am glad that our police were able to neutralize one of the attackers,” He said. “We will not never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks with all means.”
Mr. Kurz also said these were “difficult hours for our republic”. “Our police will act decisively against the culprits of this despicable terror attack”.
From the Authorities
Austria’s top security official said that a police operation was still going on hours later.
Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told public broadcaster ORF that it appears to have been a terror attack. He also added that the assailants were armed with rifles. The army had been asked to guard key locations in the city to allow police officers to pursue the attackers.
Nehammer urged Vienna residents to remain in their homes and refrain from using public transport or be in public places. He also said that children would not be expected to go to school on Tuesday.
Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig confirmed that fifteen people were hospitalized and seven of them have serious injuries.
Police said that an officer had also been hurt during the attacks.
The head of the Jewish community in Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, said that the shooting took place in the street outside the city’s main synagogue. However, it wasn’t clear whether the house of worship had been targeted. The synagogue was closed at the time.
A witness named Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister said he saw at least one person shoot at people sitting outside bars in the street below his window.”
“They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building. All these bars have tables outside. This evening is the last evening before the lockdown. As of midnight, all bars and restaurants will be closed in Austria for the next month, and a lot of people probably wanted to use that evening to be able to go out.”, He added.
“It sounded like firecrackers, then we realised it was shots,” said one eyewitness as quoted by ORF. The witness added that a shooter had shot wildly with an automatic weapon before police arrived and opened fire.
French President’s words on Vienna Attack
French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that the French “share the shock and grief of the Austrian people hit by an attack tonight. After France, this is a friendly country that has been attacked. This is our Europe … We will not give in,” he wrote.
France has endured three attacks in recent weeks. One was by a Pakistani refugee, wounding two people outside satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s old headquarters. Another was the beheading of a schoolteacher who showed students caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The third was a deadly knife attack last Thursday in a church in the city of Nice. Hence, France has gone on maximum security alert.
EU and Czech Republic on the Attack
EU Council chief Charles Michel tweeted that the bloc “strongly condemns this cowardly act”. Also, all European and global leaders voiced support for Austria.
Strict border checks are being conducted in Czech Republic-Austria borders by the Czech police.
Czech police tweeted that they are carrying out complete checks of vehicles and passengers on border crossings with Austria as a preventive measure in relation to the terror attack in Vienna.