Police in Austria have launched a manhunt after gunmen opened fire at multiple locations across central Vienna, killing at least four people and wounding several more in what Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described as a “repulsive terror attack”.
“Sadly a fourth victim has died in a Vienna hospital, this brings the the death toll to two men and two women,” an interior ministry spokesman told AFP news agency.
One of the suspected gunmen, identified as an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group sympathiser, was shot dead by police who said they were searching for at least one more assailant still at large. Authorities identified him as a 20-year-old Austrian-North Macedonian dual national, who wanted travel to Syria to join the ISIL group.
Vienna’s hospital service said seven people were in life-threatening condition on Tuesday, the Austrian news agency APA reported. In total, 17 people – including a police officer – were being treated in hospitals, with gunshot wounds but also cuts.
“It is now confirmed that yesterday’s attack was clearly an Islamist terror attack,” Kurz 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 attacks, in six locations including near a synagogue in the centre of the city, were carried out by “several suspects armed with rifles”, police said on Monday night.
Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told APA that the dead gunman, who had roots in the Balkan nation of North Macedonia, had a previous conviction under a law that punishes membership in “terrorist” organisations.
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.
Nehammer earlier said the attacker “sympathised with the militant terrorist group IS,” referring to ISIS, before urging the public to stay home in an early morning televised news conference on Tuesday.
Fifteen house searches have taken place and several people have been arrested, Nehammer said.
The attack began at about 8pm (19:00 GMT) on Monday, when several men armed with rifles opened fire – starting outside the city’s main synagogue – as many people took advantage of the last evening before a nationwide curfew took effect because of COVID-19.