Vienna terror attack toll rises to 5, Austrian minister blames 'Islamist terrorist'

3 weeks ago 5

Five people have been killed in Vienna after multiple gunmen opened fire in the central part of the city on Monday (local time). Police later gunned down one of the attackers while others are still suspected to be on the run.

An Austrian government minister has termed the Vienna terror attack as the act of an 'Islamist terrorist'. According to local media, the 20-year-old assailant who was killed by police had Albanian roots but was born and raised in Vienna. He was one of 20 Austrian Islamists who had wanted to travel to Syria.

The gunmen attacked six locations and all were near the street housing around the central synagogue in Vienna.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described the attack as a "repulsive terrorist attack". The attack in Vienna comes days after the second terror attack in France in recent times in which a woman was beheaded inside a church and two others were also killed.

Among the dead are two men and woman while seven others have been critically injured in the attack.

Austria Interior Minister Karl Nehammer warned people to stay away from the city centre, adding that border checks were being reinforced and that children would not be required to attend school on Tuesday.

"We experienced an attack yesterday evening by at least one Islamist terrorist, a situation that we have not had to live through in Austria for decades," Nehammer said.

"Austria for more than 75 years has been a strong democracy, a mature democracy, a country whose identity is marked by values and basic rights, with freedom of expression, rule of law, but also tolerance in human coexistence," he said. "Yesterday's attack is an attack on just these values."

I’m following with grave concern the violent attacks of terror in Vienna, one of our UN HQ.

I condemn these attacks in the strongest possible terms and reaffirm the @UN's solidarity with the people & Government of Austria. https://t.co/WQfbKhsMg6

— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) November 3, 2020

"We have brought several special forces units together that are now searching for the presumed terrorists. I am therefore not limiting it to an area of Vienna, because these are mobile perpetrators," Nehammer earlier told broadcaster ORF.

The minister further said that the attackers "were very well equipped with automatic weapons" and had "prepared professionally". Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig told ORF that 15 people were being treated in Vienna hospitals, and that seven were in serious condition.

Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said on Twitter it was not clear whether the Vienna synagogue and adjoining offices had been the target and said they were closed at the time.

Ob der Stadttempel eines der Ziele war, kann derzeit nicht gesagt werden. Fest steht allerdings, dass sowohl die Synagoge in der Seitenstettengasse als auch das Bürogebäude an der selben Adresse zum Zeitpunkt der ersten Schüsse nicht mehr in Betrieb und geschlossen waren. 1/

— Oskar Deutsch (@DeutschOskar) November 2, 2020

The attack happened hours before a partial lockdown was due to go into place due to the rising spread of the coronavirus, with restaurants, cafes and hotels shuttered and restrictions on movement at night.

Authorities gave no indication of the identity of the assailants or reason for the attack.

"We really can't say anything about the background yet," Kurz told ORF. "Of course an anti-Semitic background cannot be ruled out."

President Emmanuel Macron of France, which has seen two deadly knife attacks in Paris and Nice in recent weeks, issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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