Attackers open fire with rifles on streets of Vienna in terror attack

Austrian authorities are searching for gunmen responsible for a “repulsive terror attack” in Vienna, with the country’s Interior Minister telling national broadcaster ORF the offenders are still on the move.

At least two person were killed and several injured during an attack in the Austrian capital on Monday night.

Among the two confirmed dead was one of the attackers, who was shot dead by police.

Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told ORF a manhunt was underway for the “heavily armed and dangerous” attackers.

“We have brought several special forces units together that are now searching for the presumed terrorists,” he said.

“I am, therefore, not limiting it to an area of Vienna because these are mobile perpetrators.”

Police said offenders armed with rifles had fired shots from six areas near the Seitenstettengasse synagogue about 8:00pm Monday local time.

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig said 15 people had been hospitalised, seven of whom were suffering serious injuries.

Police said an officer was among the injured.

Police said the attack involved six crime scenes in six locations.

“At the moment I can confirm we believe this is an apparent terror attack,” Mr Nehammer said.

A police officers walk to ambulances at the scene in Vienna.A police officers walk to ambulances at the scene in Vienna.
Austrian police say several people have been injured in the attack.(AP: Ronald Zak)

Austrian leader condemns ‘repulsive attack’

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the Army would protect sites in the capital so police could focus on anti-terror operations.

“We are currently experiencing difficult hours in our republic,” Mr Kurz wrote on Twitter.

“I would like to thank all the emergency forces who are risking their lives for our safety, especially today.

“Our police will take decisive action against the perpetrators of this repulsive terrorist attack.”

The head of the Jewish community in Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, said the shooting took place in the street where the city’s main synagogue was located, but it was not clear whether it had been targeted.

Mr Deutsch said the synagogue was closed at the time of the attack.

Police vans block a street in Vienna.Police vans block a street in Vienna.
Police cars block a street near Schwedenplatz in Vienna.(Reuters: Leonhard Foeger)

Attack happened as people enjoyed last night out before lockdown

Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister said he saw at least one person fire shots at people sitting outside bars in the street below his window.

“They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building,” Rabbi Hofmeister said.

“All these bars have tables outside. This evening is the last evening before the lockdown,” he added.

“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.”

Police officers search a pedestrian following gunfire near a synagogue in Vienna.Police officers search a pedestrian following gunfire near a synagogue in Vienna.
Police are out in force in the centre of Vienna, near the Danube River.(AP: Ronald Zak)

Vienna police said their operation in the centre of the city was ongoing and they urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport.

“There are several injured persons,” police said on Twitter.

“We are on site with all available forces. Please avoid all public squares in the city.”

Police also warned locals not to share videos or photos of the ongoing police operation, to avoid endangering officers.

European leaders condemn terror attack

French President Emmanuel Macron took to Twitter in the wake of the attack, saying his nation shared “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,” Mr Macron wrote.

France has endured three attacks in recent weeks: one by a Pakistani refugee who injured two people outside satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s old headquarters, the slaying of a schoolteacher who showed students caricatures of the prophet of Islam, and a deadly knife attack last Thursday in a church in the Mediterranean city of Nice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK stood united with Austrians in the wake of the attack.

The Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed solidarity with the Austrian people.

Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig addressed Viennese on Twitter, expressing his shock at the attacks and urging people to stay indoors while the police operation was underway.

“We were deeply shocked to receive information about the shooting in the inner city,” he said.

“The pictures are shocking.”


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