Three fatalities in Vienna: Perpetrator had Islamist background

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After the terrorist attack on Monday evening in Vienna, Minister of the Interior Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) took stock of the situation in a press conference on Tuesday morning and called on the population to stay at home. His thoughts were with the victims and their families. Minister Nehammer talk about three victims – two men and one woman – and 15 seriously injured. The fourth dead is an assassin who has now been identified. It had been an attack by at least one Islamist.
According to Nehammer, it was a situation that Austria had never experienced before. It was a completely unsuitable attempt to “weaken our democratic society”. “Under no circumstances and in no way will we put up with this from anyone,” said Nehammer. The perpetrator had an explosive belt, which turned out to be a dummy, and an assault rifle. He had obviously wanted to spread panic. The perpetrator had been an IS sympathizer. Investigations were being conducted in his environment.

Details, such as the age of the perpetrator or his origin, could not be disclosed for technical reasons. For this reason, there was no information on the nationality of the killed assailant, whether he was registered in Vienna or had traveled to the city, or whether he had family here. The police representatives also did not say anything about whether he had previously made a criminal appearance in the direction of IS sympathy. It could not be ruled out that there had been other offenders, Nehammer said in the morning.

Seven police officers made use of their service weapons in the course of the terror attack on Monday evening, according to the information. The perpetrator had been “neutralized” at 8:09 p.m., said Vienna’s police chief Gerhard Pürstl at the joint press conference with Nehammer in the morning. According to the General Director of Public Security, Franz Ruf, the perpetrator’s apartment was forcibly opened and searched with explosives. The question whether a detonation perceived by witnesses during the night in Simmering could have been this opening of the apartment was not denied by the Minister of the Interior. Nor was there any information on whether other people were found at his home address during the house search or whether other people were reported there.

“If possible, stay at home”
Currently, investigations are still underway to determine whether there are other perpetrators, the minister said. Many victims are still in hospital or shocked, Pürstl said, and the investigations are still ongoing. According to Pürstl, there were at least three dead in the attack, two men and one woman died. According to ORF, the woman killed was a waitress.

Among the 15 injured, seven were said to have suffered severe injuries. Whether they were in a life-threatening condition is unclear. Of the lightly injured three persons could be released from the hospital into home care, Harald Sörös, spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior, announced after the press conference. Among the injured was also a young police officer. The 28-year-old was on duty in the city center when he encountered the perpetrator shooting at passers-by and was also shot by him.

“If possible, stay at home if you do not have to leave the house for professional reasons,” said Nehammer. He called for people to avoid Vienna’s inner city. There is no compulsory school attendance in Vienna on Tuesday, Nehammer continued. There is currently also increased surveillance of public spaces.

Search for further perpetrators underway
Since the evening hours, a large-scale manhunt for further perpetrators has been underway. According to Pürstl, an emergency call was made on Monday after 8 p.m. that a man was shooting with a shotgun.
Thereupon, the task forces were ordered to head towards Seitenstettengasse near the synagogue. There, there was an exchange of fire, “in which a colleague was seriously injured,” Pürstl reported. A passer-by died of his injuries immediately after the shooting, and a woman succumbed to her severe injuries in hospital. Another passer-by also died. However, the incidents have not yet been “processed in a differentiated manner”, said Pürstl. The suspected perpetrator was killed in a shootout with the police.

City center as “red zone”
At the time of the crime, the streets were very busy – many people took advantage of the mild temperatures of the last evening before the lockdown to leave again. According to police, there were six crime scenes in the immediate vicinity of Seitenstettengasse – including Morzinplatz, Salzgries, Fleischmarkt, Bauernmarkt and Graben.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, Vienna’s inner city was declared a “red zone”, which according to international experience is the most vulnerable to further action. The large-scale deployment of the executive branch continued during the night. 150 Cobra and 100 WEGA officers were called to action, in addition to several hundred patrolmen and civilian forces. The general director for public security, Ruf, said during the night that the security of the area was being ensured with all possible efforts. Also, in consultation with the partner countries, increased controls will be carried out at the Austrian borders.

— with reports from ORF.at and news agencies. Picture: vienna.at

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