Vienna Shooting Attack: Live Update

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A man who opened fire in central Vienna on Monday night armed with an automatic rifle, a pistol and a weapon, was a 20-year-old Austrian citizen who once tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State, Interior Minister Karan Nehmer said. In a news briefing on Tuesday.

Nine minutes after the assault began, four people were killed and 22 others were wounded in the heart of the Austrian capital before the gunman was killed by police. Although officers initially spoke of several gunmen, on Tuesday, they said evidence gathered so far showed no indication that others were involved.

The attacker, an Austrian who also has citizenship from North Macedonia, was identified as Kuztim Fezzulai by the authorities and his former lawyer, Nicholas Rast.

24 hours after the attack, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for it, calling the gunman a “soldier of the caliphate” who, according to a statement translated by the SITE Intelligence Group tracking the “Intelligence Group,” 30 Crusaders “Closer to”. Messaging.

It was not clear from the declaration whether the Islamic State was claiming to help plan the attack. But the group has used similar language before taking responsibility for the attack by those who acted on their own.

Mr. Nehmer said the gunman was arrested once after trying to travel to Syria to join ISIS. He was sentenced to 22 months in prison, but was released early.

Their history raised the question of how someone carried out such an attack on the officers’ radar.

The Austrians swore that the attackers would not divide their society or destroy their democracy.

On Tuesday Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said in an address to the nation that the gunfire was “definitely an Islamic terrorist attack” and that the attack grew out of “hatred, hatred for our core values”.

But Mr. Kurz took caution.

“This is not a fight between Christians and Muslims, or between Austrians and migrants,” he said. “It is a fight between civilization and barbarism.”

Mit Vural, president of the Islamic faith community in Austria, condemned the “cowardly, rebellious attack”, calling it “an attack on our Vienna” and “an attack on all of us”.

“Our democracy, our freedom and liberal order are stronger than violence and terror,” Mr. Vural said.

An ecological memorial service for the victims was held Tuesday evening at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the government announced a three-day period of official mourning, ordering half-staff with flags on public buildings. One minute silence was observed in the afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Harald Sores, said a second woman injured in the attack had died, bringing the number of dead to four.

The fiasco on Monday included recent attacks in France Condemnation of a teacher And Knife attack on a church, That both have been linked to Islamic extremists.

“We often see ourselves as a blessed island where violence and terror are known only from abroad,” Chancellor Kurz said. “But the sad truth is, even though we generally live in a safe country, we do not live in a safe world.”

The attacker was known to the authorities after Austrian Interior Minister Mr. Nehmer unsuccessfully attempted to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State and was previously convicted for attempting to join the terrorist organization and membership .

Mr. Nehamer said he was sentenced to 22 months in prison, but was allowed to exit soon.

He defended the decision to release the young man, pointing to his good behavior in prison. And he insisted that the young man had appeared “fully integrated” into society – although the evidence found in his apartment included a storehouse of reserves, a different story was told after the attack.

“There were no warning signs about his radicalization,” Mr. Nehmer said, promising to review the justice system and try to ensure that a similar mistake does not happen again.

The man posted a picture of himself on social media before executing his attack. The minister, referring to the Islamic State, showed him with a weapon and a rifle with the message that “his sympathy for IS clearly indicates”.

In 2018, after being caught trying to join ISIS, the lawyer represented the man who said there was no indication that he was dangerous. The lawyer, Nicholas Rast, said his client planned to travel to Syria to join the extremist group with a friend, but only met as a Turkish man before being arrested.

There was no suggestion that his parents had shared their views, and in fact, the man’s mother was the one who warned the authorities when he went missing, Mr. Rast said.

Mr Rast said his client’s remorse after his return to Austria seemed genuine and that his behavior in prison was such that he was released almost a year after his 22-month sentence. He attended a special de-radicalization program, the lawyer said.

“He gave the impression of a youth who was searching for who he was,” Mr. Rast said. “At no point did I realize that he was dangerous.”

Mr. Nehmer said that at least 14 people with links to gunfire in Austria have been detained and questioned and 18 locations are being searched. Several raids were conducted, mostly in Vienna, but in St. Poulton, about an hour west of the city and in Linz, about 115 miles west of the capital.

On Tuesday afternoon, his forensic investigation was over, with the Austrian police reopening the narrow streets where the mob had raged.

Investigators had spent entire days trying to find evidence – but no one had cleaned up

Blood pools can still be seen on tiled streets and in an alleyway, and in one corner there was a pile of blood-stained paper towels.

Lazy scenes of some restaurant life were suspended, with half-empty glasses and, on a table, a bowl of soup and bread that appeared untouched. Others showed clear signs of nervousness earlier in the evening, with knocked tables, bottles of beer and blood webs

And there were hundreds of police evidence tags everywhere where bullets struck or other possible evidence that was left behind.

Some wandered the streets.

“We lived so comfortably for so long, but we also worked very comfortably,” Oh, it can never happen here, “said Danta Ehtreiber, a 63-year-old Polish immigrant who has lived in Vienna for 17 years.

Ms. Etreiber had come to a nearby church to pay her respects at a memorial service, but left after just 10 minutes because she felt the crowd was sitting too close despite the coronovirus.

Michael Kramer, 33, lives only in the yard from where the attacker shot a man, but was not at home. He spent the night at the friend’s place and returned only after removing the police blockade.

On Tuesday, Mr. Kramer was taken aback at the scene.

“You always think you’re in a bubble and nothing like this can happen,” he said. “And then something like this happens right in front of your door.”

Mr. Nehmer and police said investigators were still reconstructing the events of Monday night, trying to determine how just one gunman, as they now believe, was shot at all six locations. Can be responsible for.

The first emergency call was reached by the police at 8pm at Seitenstangengse, where the city’s main synagogue is surrounded by bars, known locally as the “Bermuda Triangle”.

There the gunman opened fire on a young man in the street. And around the corner, a woman waiting at a bar in Rupreitsplatz, named after the city’s oldest church, was shot dead.

At 8:09 pm, the police shot the gunman at the same square.

Police said another victim was found on Fleuricmark – several minutes’ walk from Ruprechtsplatz – and another on an open square next to a canal running through the city, Franz-Josephs-Kai. A 28-year-old police officer was also shot there, but a group of soldiers pulled him to safety and is credited with saving his life.

The streets of the center of Vienna, usually filled with tourists, government employees and other citizens, were largely empty on Tuesday, saving hundreds of heavy police officers. School attendance was optional and residents were encouraged to stay indoors.

Church bells started ringing at noon, as the city halted for a moment to honor the victims. Among them, Austria’s largest church bell – the “Pummerene”, which hangs in the northern tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and is used only for special events – was thrown out.

The attack occurred on Monday, hours before the country entered lockdown to counter the Coronavirus, and many gathered outside in Vienna before coming into force. Hundreds of other people were stranded at the city’s famous Opera House and National Theater, both of whom were taken out by the police hours after curtains fell.

“You can feel that many people wanted to get out once more before the lockdown started,” said 23-year-old Amelie Piesch, who was in the area an hour before the attack. “It was a mild evening, and a lot of people were outside.”

All of that changed in an instant. People scrambled for shelter from the streets to the restaurants, and all trams and subways in the city center were stopped as police urged residents to take refuge in the place.

The sound of sirens and helicopters filled the night air as people struggled over what was happening.

“We are in shock,” said Farnaz Alvi, 34, an HR consultant in Vienna.

Mr. Kurz said in his speech Tuesday morning that the gunman had killed about four people – an older man, an older woman, a younger man who was passing by and a waitress working in a restaurant.

But he also urged citizens to remember that “our enemy never belongs to religion, our enemy never belongs to all people who come from a particular country” but also “Our enemy is extremists and terrorists is.”

“They are not in our society,” he said.

Austria – and Vienna in particular – has been a target over the years for terrorist attacks, often with fatal consequences. Religious and political tensions sometimes led to sporadic violence, with no clear connection to Austria.

In 1975, a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the city was stormed with submachine cannons by six people. They killed three people and took at least 60 hostages.

One group claimed to have attacked the attack as “political imperialism and an act of information” aimed at “an alliance between American imperialism and reactionary forces in the Arab homeland.”

In 1981, Heinz Nietel, a leader of the Austrian Socialist Party and head of the Austrian-Israel Friendship Society, was murdered outside his home by an attacker linked to a militant Palestinian group.

Two people were killed in 1981 when terrorists attacked a synagogue with grenades and firearms. Just after Christmas in 1985, panic broke out at Vienna Airport when three gunmen ransacked the check-in lounge and opened fire with gunfire, killing three and injuring dozens.

Witnesses said the attack began when Al Al Israel boarded an airline flight. The attack was coordinated with another El Al check-in 10 minutes earlier in Rome.

From 1993 to 1997, a series of mail bombs and other explosive devices, which injured the mayor of Vienna, stoked fears of growing neo-Nazi terrorism in the country. The man convicted in the attacks said his goal was to reunite the German-speaking regions.

Melissa Eddy, Christopher F. Schuetze and Caterin Benehold reported from Berlin, and Megan Specia from London. Reporting was contributed by Anton Troyanovsky from Moscow; Aurelian Breden from Paris; Livia Albeck-Repka from Darwin, Australia; Joe Ritchie from Hong Kong; And Christophe Koetel, Fernaz Fasihi and Emmett Lindner from New York.

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