One gunman has been shot dead by police. Authorities are urging the general public to stay inside while at the very least one suspect remains on the run, in accordance to Interior Minister Karl Nehammer. It is unclear what number of shooters there are in whole.
Nehammer and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz have described the incident as a “terror attack.”
“We are still in battle against the would-be terrorists,” Nehammer said on Austrian public broadcaster ORF, including that a number of suspects had assault rifles.
Gunfire erupted within the Austrian capital at round 8 p.m. local time, simply before the start of a nationwide lockdown to fight a resurgence of Covid-19, in accordance to police.
The metropolis’s bars and eating places have been packed, with people sitting outside due to the nice and cozy climate and also because of virus considerations, having fun with their last few hours of freedom.
Then the attack started.
Vienna’s mayor Michael Ludwig said the gunmen began randomly shooting at people within the busy buying and eating district close to Vienna’s important synagogue, Seitenstettengasse Temple.
Julia Hiermann, who lives in Vienna, was having drinks with a buddy when the shooting started.
Restaurant staff told everybody to conceal within the basement, she told CNN over the cellphone. There she and others have been told that gunmen have been shooting outside. Hiermann said she didn’t see or hear the attackers.
The police later got here inside the restaurant and told diners that “we have to stay inside and wait here,” she said. “This seems unimaginable. When they said shots fired I didn’t think this was serious,” she said.
Reaction to the attack
Footage shared on social media confirmed people fleeing from the scene on foot as the gunfire started.
Authorities are nonetheless working to find out more concerning the perpetrators, but Kurz told ORF that “an anti-Semitic motive cannot be excluded” due to the attack’s proximity to the synagogue. The Austrian military has been deployed to assist defend buildings and properties.
Oskar Deutsch, the head of Vienna’s Jewish community, said in a tweet that it was unclear whether or not the synagogue was a target, but that it was closed on the time of the shooting.
In a press convention within the early hours of Tuesday, Nehammer said it was “the hardest day for Austria for many years.”
“Those who attack one of us, attacks all of us,” he said.
Across Europe, leaders have strongly condemned the shooting, which follows two terror assaults in France in recent weeks.
“After France, it is a friendly country that is under attack,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter.
“Europe strongly condemns this cowardly act that violates life and our human values,” the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, said on Twitter.
Other leaders have shared statements expressing their shock and sorrow, together with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
This is a growing story, updates to follow
Stephanie Halasz and Tim Lister contributed to this report.