“This is definitely a terrorist attack.”
Government officials said several gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons in central Vienna on Monday night, killing at least one person and injuring several others. They reported that an attacker had been killed.
According to a spokesperson for the hospital association, at least 15 people were injured in the attack and were being treated in hospitals. According to the Mayor of Vienna, at least seven of the wounds were serious.
“It’s definitely a terrorist attack,” said the Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz.
It was not over until late Monday.
“The police managed to eliminate one criminal,” Mr. Kurz sadly said, “but there are still many criminals at large.”
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehmer described the perpetrators as “heavily armed and dangerous” and said “we are still in the fight against suspected terrorists.”
Vienna police said the attack, which began around 8 a.m., included “several suspects armed with a rifle.” Officials said gunmen opened fire at six different locations as they made their way to Central Vienna.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Harald Sores, described the man who was killed as a passer-by.
The shooting took place in the heart of the Austrian capital, hours before the midnight start of the nationwide lockdown, one of several imposed to prevent the spread of coronovirus in Europe.
“We have fallen victim to a disgusting terrorist attack that is still going on,” Chancellor Kurz said in a television address to the nation before midnight.
As the night approached, more bullets were reported elsewhere in the first district of Vienna. Police officers described a chaotic situation, with many “exchanging shots”. Emergency vehicles closed the roads and a streetcar line through the area was cordoned off.
The Chancellor said it had called in troops to ensure the security of Austria’s official buildings, freeing the police to “fully focus on the fight against terror”.
With the goal unclear, officials discouraged speculation.
The area where the shots were first reported is a tight net of streets filled with bars and pubs, known locally as the “Bermuda Triangle”. It is also home to the main temple in Vienna, the Seitanstettengesse synagogue – but it was not clear what the intended target or target of the attackers was.
President of the Jewish Religious Community in Austria, Oscar Deutsch said On twitter The initial shooting took place in the “immediate vicinity” of the temple, but it was closed at that time.
“It is not yet clear what the goal of the main temple was,” he said.
The police took to Twitter to exercise restraint.
“Please do not share any rumors, allegations, speculation or unconfirmed numbers of victims,” he said. “It doesn’t help at all! Stay inside, take shelter, stay away from public places.”
Before drastic new measures are taken to control the epidemic in the country, the Austrians attacked from outside to enjoy the night before.
“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 changed in an instant.
“I am currently in the restaurant where the attacks took place,” said Julia Schrammel, a 24-year-old student. “I’m here with my cousins because we wanted to spend a good night together before lockdown.”
At first, Ms. Schrammel said, the magnitude of what was happening was not clear.
“We just saw a lot of people running away, had no clue what was going on, then heard the shooting and some people were screaming,” she said.
The restaurant was eventually closed. Elsewhere, there were reports of patrons at other restaurants walking into the kitchen to hide.
The city stopped all trams and subways in central Vienna and reiterated the police’s plea to give people shelter everywhere. This included many people who were in restaurants and cafes.
“The situation here is very tense,” Ms. Scrummel said. “It is safest to live here. We are surrounded by tons of police and ambulances. “
The sound of sirens and helicopters filled the night air as the Austrians struggled to absorb what was happening.
“We are in shock,” said Fernaz Alvi, a 34-year-old human resources consultant in Vienna. “It seems that they carried out this attack on the last night of lockdown when a lot of people were out for maximum effect.”
Witnesses posted dramatic videos of the attack.
Many posted dramatic videos showing the shooting and the aftermath.
One video showed people showing an injured man lying in a pool of blood, just outside a restaurant on Ruprechtsplatz and less than a mile from the Austrian parliament building. Many chairs were overturned in the restaurant’s outdoor area, as if left in a hurry.
In another video, a civilian was shown in clothing coming out of a bar or restaurant, then firing a rifle twice from an alleyway.
Yet another video appeared to show the same gunman on the same street, shooting a man at a close range with a long gun, then seconds later shooting him twice more with a handgun.
Other videos showed people echoing through the streets, or taking positions of heavily armed police officers, running or hitting behind obstacles.
On Twitter, Vienna police plead with witnesses Not for posting videos And photos on social media, but instead of sending them to authorities.
A city that sometimes finds itself in cross hairs.
Austria – and Vienna in particular – has been a target over the years for terrorist attacks, often with fatal consequences.
Religious and political tension, sometimes with no apparent connection to Austria, has led to sporadic violence, which has killed and wounded both civilians and political figures.
In 1975, at a meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the city, six people were attacked with submachine cannons. They killed three people and captured at least 60 hostages.
One group claimed 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.
Synagogues in Vienna have also been under attack. Two people were killed in 1981 when terrorists attacked a temple with grenades and firearms. The attack came weeks after two small bombs exploded outside the Israeli embassy.
Just after Christmas in 1985, panic broke out at Vienna Airport when three gunmen barged into 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 he aimed to reunite the German-speaking regions.
Melissa Eddy, Christopher F. Schuetze and Caterin Benehold reported from Berlin. Christophe Koetel and Fernaz Fasihi from New York reported.