Four people have died in a suspected terrorist attack near a synagogue in Vienna.
The attack started last night near the Stadttempel Synagogue in central Vienna. At around 8 pm, gunmen started shooting at different locations in the area, according to authorities. Police shot and killed one of the suspects who they say is an Islamist terrorist and who was wearing a fake explosive belt.
It’s believed that one of the shooters is still on the run. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer advised people to stay at home, during a press conference this morning. Schools will remain open but children will not be obliged to attend, he said.
Nehammer said the attack was an “assault” on Austria’s values and “an utterly inept attempt to weaken or divide our democratic society,” but added: “We will not let this happen.”
The home of the individual who was shot has been searched by authorities. Neehammer described him as a sympathizer of the Islamic State terrorist group.
17 citizens were taken to hospital, seven of which are said to be in a serious condition. Out of those that died, two were women and two were men. One was reported to be a waitress in the area where the shooting took place, the other passed away in the hospital during the night.
The head of the Jewish Community of Vienna, Oskar Deutsch said it’s unclear at this stage if the Synagogue was a target as they were closed at the time of the shooting. He advised all community members to remain inside until the authorities give the all-clear. All Jewish schools, synagogues, supermarkets, kosher restaurants, and community centres will be closed today as a precaution.
During the night, several people were arrested in connection with the attack.
Chairman of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha and President Ilir Meta both expressed their regret over the attack.
“I strongly condemn the cowardly terrorist attack on innocent lives in Vienna. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. “Albania stands strong in solidarity with the Austrian people and authorities,” Basha wrote on Twitter.
While Meta wrote that “our thoughts and prayers go to the families of the victims and the people of Vienna. “We stand firmly with our Austrian and international allies in the fight against terrorism.”
Prime Minister Edi Rama said he is “heartbroken” by the attack. He said his thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims and that Albania stands firm with Austria.