Vienna Terror Attacks: Four Dead As Manhunt For Suspects Continues
Austrian police said the attack is considered to have an "Islamist motive".
UPDATE: The Vienna police in a statement said that the gunman who was shot by police officers has been identified as a 20-year-old man with dual Austrian and North Macedonian citizenship. Police said that the perpetrator was previously convicted for "terrorist association." While a manhunt is on for further attackers, police have said that the killed attacker might have been acting alone.
Multiple gun-wielding assailants opened fire in six locations in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday killing four people while seriously wounding 22 including a police officer.
The police shot dead one of the attackers though the exact number of terrorists is still unknown. Austrian police said the attack is considered to have an "Islamist motive".
The attacks took place a day before Austria was scheduled to go under a lockdown due to COVID-19.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz condemned the attacks and said, "We will never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks resolutely by all means."
Here's what we know about the attacks so far
When and where did the attacks take place?
The attacks took place in six locations in Vienna's city centre in the nightlife district of Bermuda-Dreieck around 8 pm local time. The Austrian state broadcaster ORF has reported that police have identified six areas which were targeted. These include the Seitenstettengasse Stadttempel, Morzinplatz, the meat market, the farmer's market and Graben.
Vienna's police chief said that an emergency call was made at 8 pm of a gunman shooting at people with a shotgun following which police were immediately deployed to Seitenstettengasse.
The Seitenstettengasse Stadttempel is Vienna's main Jewish temple. While Austria's Interior Minister Karl Nehammer has decribed one of the attacker's as having an "Islamist background", authorities have not confirmed if the attacks were anti-Semitic.
The areas attacked housed many cafes and restaurants which were packed with people who were out to spend time before the lockdown was implemented. Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig said the attackers shot people at random as they dined outside cafes.
Oskar Deutch, President of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien (IKG) in Austria said on Twitter that the Seitenstettengasse Stadttempel was closed after evening prayers. Deutch said that the whether the synagogue was a target cannot be confirmed as of now and added that the IKG is cooperating with police.
How many fatalities and injuries have been reported?
Four people - two women and two men - have been confirmed dead so far. 15 people, including an off-duty police officer, were also shot and are currently in critical condition. According to the Austrian Press Agency (APA), seven victims have life-threatening injuries.
The police shot dead one of the attackers and recovered a an assault rifle. He was also wearing an explosive vest which turned out to be a dummy.
How many attackers have been reported?
As of now, the Austrian government has not yet confirmed if the attacker was alone or if he had accomplices. Nehammer told reporters that the killed gunman was an Islamic State sympathiser.
The government had earlier warned of a group of heavily armed gunmen. Nehmammer said that investigations are still ongoing as to whether there were more attackers.
Franz Ruf, General Director for Public Security told reporters that the deceased gunman's house has been searched but did not elaborate on what was uncovered at the apartment. Nehammer said that several houses around the attacker's house have been searched and several arrests have been made.
Chancellor Kurtz said that the attackers were "very well equipped" and "professionally prepared." An eyewitness, who lived close to where the attack took place, told CNN that an unidentified attacker looked "professional". "He didn't look confused and he wasn't shooting around randomly -- it was very targeted and coordinated, like a fighter," Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told CNN. He, however, could not identify if the attacker is the same one as seen in videos of the attack.
What is the current situation in Vienna and Austria?
Chancellor Kurtz announced that the military has been deployed to secure Vienna with police tasked with anti-terrorist operations. The ORF reports that a wide-scale man hunt has been launched for any other attackers. Hundreds of police officers have been deployed along with 150 officers of the Interior Ministry's Cobra police tactical unit.
The Ministry of Interior has declared the inner city a red zone.
Ludwig has implored citizens to stay at home until further notice. Nehammer also took to Twitter to ask people to stay indoors and avoid downtown Vienna. He also said that schools will not function on Tuesday.
Vienna's police have urged people not to share video's and photos linked to the attacks on social media and instead share it with the police. Ruf said more than 20,000 videos have been uploaded on the online platform provided by the police an d about 20% of the footage has been analyzed.
Security has been increased at Austria's border with Germany and the Czech Republic have started carrying out random vehicle checks to ensure suspected attackers do not flee Austria.
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