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Vienna Shooting: Attack at Austria Synagogue Leaves Several Dead

Multiple gunmen opened fire at six locations in central Vienna starting near an area with several synagogues on Monday, killing several and wounding several others.

About 50 shots were fired according to witnesses. All crime scenes are located in the first district within ten minutes’ walk of each other, where several synagogues are located, police reported.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said shootings in Vienna late on Monday were “repulsive terror attack,” adding that the army would protect sites in the capital so the police could focus on anti-terror operations.

Exclusive video of the shooting from the first moments of the attack in Vienna, Austria#Vienna @BittonRosen pic.twitter.com/BDDHIcnTBK— ערוץ 20 (@arutz20) November 2, 2020

The Austrian Ministry of the Interior said the incident may have been a terrorist attack. “At the moment I can confirm we believe this is an apparent terror attack,” he said.

Several “heavily armed and dangerous” attackers were still on the loose as police shut down and sealed off large parts of central Vienna in a manhunt, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said.

“We have brought several special forces units together that are now searching for the presumed terrorists. I am therefore not limiting it to an area of Vienna because these are mobile perpetrators,” Nehammer told broadcaster ORF.

Chancellor Kurz and Interior Minister Nehammer appeal to the population to stay at home if possible because the danger has not yet been averted, Kurier reported, adding that school in Vienna will not be compulsory on Tuesday. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer announced in a press conference on Monday night that at least one perpetrator of the attack in downtown Vienna is still on the run.

Austrian police said the attack involved six crime scenes – Salzgries, Schwedenplatz, Graben, Fleischmarkt, Bauernmarkt and Morzinplatz.

Fifteen injured attack victims being treated in Vienna hospitals, seven of whom are seriously injured, ORF reported in Broadcast. The Mayor of Vienna Michael Ludwig expressed his horror at the attack in Vienna on Twitter: “We were deeply shocked by the information about the shooting in the inner city. The pictures are shocking and stunned.”

Ludwig also reported that a woman died of her injuries in hospital and was appealing to stay at home, adding that the perpetrator was equipped with a long weapon, but also a pistol and a machete – so he was “very well prepared”.

Two separate reports, one by the Kurier, and the other by the DiePresse, are reporting seven fatalities, including one police officer.

According to Austrian newspaper Kronen, local police had confirmed a large deployment to the scene but have declined to comment on the reason for the mobilization.

Vienna police reported via Twitter “a large police operation going on in the1st district of Vienna,” and advised the public to avoid entering the city until further notice.

Several officials and community leaders responded to the shooting, condemning the attack, and calling on Viennese citizen to be careful and stay safe.

Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said on Twitter that it was not clear whether the Vienna synagogue and adjoining offices had been the target of an attack, and said they were closed at the time.

Yaakov Hagoel, Chairman World Zionist Organization, issued a statement saying “I spoke recently with the Chief Rabbi of Vienna…it remains unclear if there were casualties from the Jewish community…we were required to close at this time all Jewish institutions, including synagogues and community buildings. We are of course hoping that there are no casualties at all. We will continue follow updates on the attack.”

A report by the Teletrader news agency later indicated a possible hostage situation, as hostages were taken taken at the Akakiko sushi restaurant in Mariahilfer Stasse, roughly 2.5 kilometers away from the synagogue in Seitenstettengasse. However, it is unknown at this point if and how the incidents are connected.

According to Rabbi Jacob Biderman, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Austria, all of the city’s synagogues have been accounted for with no known injuries or loss of life in the Jewish community. “While there is much about this attack that we do not yet know, we are thankful that the Jewish community seems to have been spared from harm and extend our prayers for all those injured,” he told Chabad.org.