Five people died, including an assailant, and 17 others were wounded in a shooting in the heart of Vienna, hours before a coronavirus lockdown started, Austrian authorities said on Tuesday.
The dead attacker was a 20-year-old Austrian-North Macedonian dual national who had a previous terror conviction. The suspected attacker was shot and killed by police.
Vienna’s hospital service said seven people were in life-threatening condition after the attack; in all, 17 people were being treated in hospitals, with gunshot wounds and also cuts.
“It is now confirmed that it was clearly an Islamist terror attack," an official said. “It was an attack out of hatred — hatred for our fundamental values, hatred for our way of life, hatred for our democracy in which all people have equal rights and dignity.”
The attacker, named as Kujtim Fejzulai, was sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019 because he had tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group. He was granted early release in December under juvenile law.
Fifteen house searches have taken place and several people have been arrested. The attacker "was equipped with a fake explosive vest and an automatic rifle, a handgun and a machete.’’ Authorities were still trying to determine whether other attackers may be on the run. People in Vienna were urged to stay at home if possible on Tuesday and children did not have to go to school. Some 1,000 police officers were on duty.
The shooting began near Vienna’s main synagogue as many people were enjoying a last night of open restaurants and bars before a month-long coronavirus lockdown, which started at midnight.
Unverified footage posted on social media showed a gunman walking through the streets, apparently shooting at people at random, wounding several. It was unclear whether the person seen shooting was the same individual in each video.