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Two dead and 15 wounded in Vienna terror attack on eve of lockdown

Vienna police tweeted that the exact circumstances of the incident were still being determined.

Updated Nov 2nd 2020, 11:29 PM

austria-police-operation In this image made from video, police at the scene after gunshots were heard, in Vienna, Source: AP/PA Images

GUNMEN OPENED FIRE on people enjoying a last evening out in Vienna before a coronavirus lockdown, in a terror attack that left at least two dead — including one of the attackers — and 15 wounded.

“I am glad that our police were able to neutralise one of the attackers,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said. “We will not never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks with all means.”

Police said several shots were fired shortly after 8pm on a lively street in the city centre and that there were six shooting locations.

Austria’s top security official said authorities believe there were several gunmen involved and a police operation was still going on hours later.

The nation’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said the shooting in central Vienna near a major synagogue appeared to be a terrorist attack.

“It appears to be a terror attack” with several people injured and several attackers involved, Nehammer told public broadcaster ORF.

“I can confirm that there were several injured and that there are probably also deaths among them,” Nehammer added.

Vienna police said several shots were fired shortly after 8pm local time in a lively street in the city centre, and that there were six different shooting locations.

The shooting began just hours before Austria was to re-impose a coronavirus lockdown to try to slow the spread of Covid-19, and bars and restaurants were packed as people enjoyed a final night of relative freedom.

Police urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport in the city. Police said trams and buses were not stopping and urged social media users not to post videos of the police operation, so as not to endanger officers.

They said the attack is still “active” and told people to remain indoors. 

“There are several injured persons,” police tweeted. “We are on site with all available forces. Please avoid all public squares in the city.”

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned the incident as a “repulsive terrorist attack”.

“We are experiencing difficult hours in our republic,” Sebastian Kurz said on Twitter.

“Our police will act decisively against the perpetrators of this repulsive terror attack,” he said, adding that “we will never be intimidated by terrorism and we will fight this attack with all means”.

The president of Vienna’s Jewish community Oskar Deutsch said that shots had been fired “in the immediate vicinity” of the Stadttempel synagogue but added that it was currently unknown whether the synagogue itself had been the target of an attack.

He said that the synagogue and office buildings at the same address had been closed at the time of the attack.

austria-police-operation Source: Ronald Zak

“It sounded like firecrackers, then we realised it was shots,” said one eyewitness quoted by public broadcaster ORF.

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A shooter had “shot wildly with an automatic weapon” before the police arrived and opened fire, the witness added.

“There are several injured persons,” police tweeted. “We are on site with all available forces. Please avoid all public squares in the city.”

Police added that the circumstances of the incident are still being determined.

Austrian public broadcaster ORF cited witnesses as saying several shots were fired shortly after 8pm local time.

European Union chief Charles Michel called the shootings “cowardly”.

Europe “strongly condemns this cowardly act that violates life and our human values,” European Council chief Michel tweeted. 

French president Emmanuel Macron said: “We French share the shock and sadness of the Austrians after an attack in Vienna. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give up.”

With reporting from PA, AFP and Garreth MacNamee

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Adam Daly

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