At least one dead in suspected terror attack near Vienna synagogue

At least one killed and 15 injured in what Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described as a 'despicable terrorist attack.'

At least one dead in suspected terror attack near Vienna synagogue

At least one person was killed and 15 others injured in a series of shootings that started near a synagogue in central Vienna on Monday night, which Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described as a “despicable terrorist attack.”

The shooting began at about 8 p.m. local time at six different locations by several gunmen armed with rifles, according to local authorities. Police shot and killed at least one of the suspects, but are still searching for others.

Mayor Michael Ludwig said that seven of those in hospital were seriously injured.

“We are currently experiencing difficult hours in our republic,” Kurz said on Twitter. “Our police will pursue the perpetrators of this despicable terror attack with all determination.”

“I am happy that our police have already managed to neutralize one of the perpetrators. We will never be intimidated by terrorism and will resolutely fight these attacks with all measures.”

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said in an interview with public broadcaster ORF that several heavily armed perpetrators were still active in the city center. The interior minister did not confirm media reports that one perpetrator was also arrested.

“We continue to be in the midst of a fight against suspected terrorists,” Nehammer said, adding: “We are assuming several perpetrators, heavily armed and dangerous.”

Kurz also said the government had decided to hand over protection efforts to the army so “that the police can concentrate on the fight against terrorism.”

The head of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Oskar Deutsch, said it was unclear if the synagogue was the target as the temple and its offices were closed at the time of the shooting. Nevertheless, he added that all community members were advised to remain indoors until getting the all-clear from authorities.

Viennese police on Twitter warned locals to stay away from public places and public transport. Monday is the last night before Austria’s nationwide coronavirus lockdown begins, and some had therefore decided to go out to restaurants, bars and other venues. Many are now trapped in these places in the city center.

Police also warned people not to spread rumors online or share videos of the events on social media as it could endanger their ongoing operation.

French President Emmanuel Macron, whose country is still reeling after recent deadly attacks at a church and against a teacher, tweeted in German that “We, French people, share in the shock and sorrow of Austrians after an attack in Vienna. After France, another friendly country has been attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give up.”

European Council President Charles Michel tweeted support for Kurz and said that “Europe strongly condemns this cowardly act that violates life and our human values. My thoughts are with the victims and the people of #Vienna in the wake of tonight’s horrific attack.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also voiced support for Austria, tweeting: “I am shocked and saddened by the brutal attack that took place in Vienna. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and the Austrian people. Europe stands in full solidarity with Austria. We are stronger than hatred and terror.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described the attack on Twitter as a “cowardly act of violence and hate.”

Kalina Oroschakoff and Cornelius Hirsch contributed reporting.