The Austrian government declared on Tuesday a three-day national mourning after a deadly terror attack that left at least four people and one perpetrator dead in the capital on Monday evening.
Starting on Tuesday, flags have been lowered to half-mast on public buildings across the country, according to a government statement.
In addition, a “minute of silent remembrance” should be observed on Tuesday at 12 noon (1100 GMT). Schools should also observe a minute’s silence at the beginning of lessons on Wednesday. A wreath-laying ceremony is planned in downtown Vienna.
“The Republic of Austria was, is and will always be a nation of diversity, dialogue and respect for one another, the more the events of November 2, 2020 have shaken and affected our country,” said the government statement.
On Monday evening, at around 8:00 p.m. (1900 GMT), a terrorist attack took place in Vienna’s inner city when gunmen opened fire on people enjoying a last-night out at Vienna’s cafes and restaurants before a coronavirus lockdown starting early Tuesday.
At least four civilians — two men and two women — were confirmed dead in the attack, according to an Austrian interior ministry spokesman. Seventeen others were injured, seven of whom are in life-threatening condition.
The Chinese Embassy in Austria said Tuesday that a Chinese Austrian was killed and a Chinese citizen injured in the terrorist attack.
The Chinese Austrian, owner of a restaurant in downtown Vienna, was badly injured in the attack and died on Tuesday morning, said the embassy. The wounded Chinese citizen, who works at the same restaurant, is in stable condition, it added.
During Monday evening’s attack, one perpetrator was shot dead by police. He was identified as 20-year-old Islamist Fejzulai Kujtim, who had a criminal record related to contact with the Islamic State (IS), Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Kujtim was sentenced to 22 months in prison on April 25, 2019, for attempting to travel to Syria to join IS and was released early on parole, local media reported.
Kujtim was equipped with “a dummy explosive belt and an automatic long gun, a handgun, and a machete to carry out this hideous attack on innocent citizens,” Nehammer said.
Extensive large raids have already taken place in the vicinity of the perpetrator, with 15 houses searched and several people arrested, Nehammer added.
It is not yet confirmed how many perpetrators participated in the attack on Monday evening.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Nehammer also urged people to stay home during the police operation. “Stay home if this is possible for work and avoid Vienna’s city center in particular. The police are still doing meticulous investigative work here,” he said.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned the attack as a “hate attack”. “Out of hatred for our core values. Out of hatred for our way of life. Out of hatred for our democracy, in which all people are equal in rights and dignity,” tweeted the chancellor earlier on Tuesday.
“But we must always be aware that this is not a dispute between Christians and Muslims or between Austrians and migrants. This is a struggle between the many people who believe in peace and the few who want war,” Kurz added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday strongly condemned the “cruel and cynical” shooting attack which took place in Vienna on Monday, which “once again confirmed the inhuman nature of terrorism.”
Putin made the remarks in a message of condolence to Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
According to a Kremlin statement,
Putin “expressed confidence that terrorist forces would never be able to intimidate anyone, or sow discord and enmity between people of different religions.”
He reaffirmed Russia’s readiness to enhance cooperation with Austria and other countries in the fight against all forms and manifestations of terrorism.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday expressed concern over attacks in Vienna, Austria, said his spokesman.
The secretary-general is following with utmost concern the still evolving situation in Vienna’s city center where violent attacks have been reported in several places on Monday, killing at least one bystander and injuring several others, including members of the security forces, the spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Guterres extended his deep condolences to the family of the victim and wished those injured a speedy recovery, it added.
The secretary-general strongly condemned these attacks and reaffirmed the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and the government of Austria, the statement said.