At least five people were killed, including a policeman, and seventeen were wounded when an organised Islamic terrorists attacked in the centre of Vienna on Monday evening.
The police asked Vienna inhabitants to stay at home on Tuesday. The schools and university classes were also suspended. Police have continued its counter-terror operation to apprehend the terrorists and their enablers.
The wide-scale police and military operation ran all night. 150 Cobra and 100 counter-terror unit officers were on duty, besides several hundreds of patrolmen and civil servants. In consultation with the partner European Union countries, more controls are being carried out at the Austrian borders. The armed forces were also activated.
The armed military took over the entire property protection in the federal capital to relieve the police, parts of the hunting squad were provided to support the fight against terrorism, informed General Director for Public Security, Franz Ruf.
Mr. Ruf thanked Austrians for providing of 20,000 pieces of the video footage of the terrorist attack and related scenes including the victims.
The morning show hosts wearing black clothes as a sign of mourning of the victims and solidarity with the injured were repeating the police requests to Vienna's inhabitants to stay home.
Attack began in the busiest part of the capital of Austria, only a few meters from the famous St Stephen cathedral. The terrorist armed with machine guns, pistols and knives formed in groups shot pedestrians in five locations at nearby streets of the historic old market.
It was the last evening before the announced the lockdown when friends and families reunited in bars and restaurants. It was there where armed Muslims shot them. The shots could have been heard on the adjacent streets.
Then pedestrians ran into the bars in panic, and the attackers followed. According to one of the owners of the restaurants, there was still shooting in the bars. He called the police who “never came” - but then suddenly appeared the special anti-terror units. “Suddenly special units were positioned everywhere at the house entrances. The police called for any injured people, and I heard shouts from the bars: 'Yes, there are two injured people here! And here is also one‘”, he told one of the journalists.
"A well-designed terror attack"
It was a well-designed attack, in which terrorists in a short time maximised the number of victims utilising surprise, darkness, and easy access to the helpless target. The attackers had experience with the operation of short and long guns and moved fast, according to the counter-terror specialists.
The Viennese terrorism expert Mr. Nicolas Stockhammer assumes a long-term plan for the attack indicated the armament of the terrorist and the time shortly before the start of the lockdown.
According to eyewitness reports, several men with long guns and pistols shot at random passers-by and local visitors in a nightlife district in the city center. A woman - apparently a waitress, according to ORF television - died from her injuries in the hospital during the night, and a man died that evening. Tuesday morning, it became known that there was two more fatalities. At least four civilians died, the Interior Minister stated. A 28-year old policeman was also killed by the terrorist. Fifteen people were injured, many of them seriously, the police authorities informed. The health of the injured was described in the morning as "unchanged".
The Austrian daily newspaper Kurier informed that four not three people were killed but there was no immediate confirmation of fourth fatality.
The counter-terrorism detectives are still investigating the details of the shooting but one footage suggested that it started at the synagogue. It was closed at that time but after the shooter directed weapon against the door, the security responded with fire. After that the terrorist escaped injuring at least one pedestrian, CCTV camera footage has shown.
Federal Chancellor Mr. Sebastian Kurz spoke of a “disgusting terrorist attack”. He said that Austria would not bow to this terror, and "it will fight these attacks with all means resolutely".
The criminal police representative stated that it knew that identity of terrorists involved in the attack but revealed only that one of them was a symphatiser of the so-called Islamic State, the terrorist organisation operating mostly in Syria. The police did not provide more details on terrorists due to the ongoing investigation.