Gunman was shot dead by police. Authorities are urging the public to stay indoors while at least one suspect is still on the run, according to Interior Minister Karl Nhammer. It’s unclear how many shooters are in total.
Nihamer and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described the incident as a “terrorist attack”.
“We are still in a battle against potential terrorists,” Nihamer told Austrian public broadcaster OFF, adding that a number of the suspects were carrying assault rifles.
Shooting broke out in the Austrian capital at around 8 p.m. local time, before the nationwide lockdown began to combat the re-emergence of Covid-19, according to police.
The bars and restaurants in the city were crowded, people were sitting outside because of the warm weather and also because of fears of viruses, enjoying their last few hours of freedom.
Then the attack began.
The mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, said the gunmen began firing randomly at people in the crowded shopping and restaurant area near Vienna’s main temple of Sittenschettungasse.
Julia Hermann, who lives in Vienna, was drinking with a friend when the shooting started.
Restaurant staff told everyone to hide in the basement, she told CNN over the phone. There, she and others were told that gunmen were shooting outside. Hermann said she did not see or hear the attackers.
She said that the police later entered the restaurant and told us, “We have to stay inside and wait here.” “This seems unimaginable. When they said that the shooting was not dangerous,” she said.
Reaction to the attack
Footage circulated on social media showed people fleeing the scene on foot as the shooting began.
Authorities are still working to find out more about the perpetrators, but Curtis told the ORF that “an anti-Semitic motive cannot be ruled out” due to the proximity of the attack to the synagogue. The Austrian Army was deployed to help protect buildings and property.
Oskar Deutsch, the leader of Vienna’s Jewish community, said in a tweet that it was not clear if the synagogue was a target, but it was closed at the time of the shooting.
“It is the most difficult day for Austria in many years,” Niehamer told a news conference he held early Tuesday.
“He who attacks one of us attacks us all,” he said.
Across Europe, leaders have strongly condemned the shooting, which came after two terrorist attacks in France in recent weeks.
“After France, it has become a friendly country that is under attack,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Twitter.
“Europe strongly condemns this cowardly act that violates life and human values,” Charles Michel, president of the European Council, said on Twitter.
Other leaders shared statements expressing their shock and sadness, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.
This is a developing story, follow-up updates
Stephanie Hallas and Tim Lister contributed to this report.