PM expresses condolences after ‘terrible’ terror attacks in Vienna

By Patrick Daly, PA Political Correspondent
·3-min read

The Prime Minister has expressed his deep shock at the “terrible attacks” in Vienna which have left at least two dead and several injured.

Both Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted to express solidarity with Austria after the country’s capital experienced a deadly attack on Monday evening, with the blame being pinned on terrorists.

Austrian authorities have confirmed two people are dead – including one of the attackers – and 15 wounded after gunmen opened fire on people enjoying a last evening out in Vienna before a coronavirus lockdown comes into force.

One attacker was shot dead by police but several others were thought to be “on the loose”, according to the Austrian chancellor.

Austria Monday
Police officers stay in position next to a memorial for victims of the Nazi era, after gunshots were heard in Vienna (AP/Ronald Zak)

Mr Johnson said: “I am deeply shocked by the terrible attacks in Vienna tonight.

“The UK’s thoughts are with the people of Austria – we stand united with you against terror.”

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said there were believed to have been several gunmen involved in a “prepared” attack.

Vienna police said several shots were fired shortly after 8pm local time in a city centre street, and that there were six different shooting locations.

“One of the perpetrators was neutralised, but several perpetrators appear to still be on the loose,” Mr Kurz said.

“They seem to also, as far as we know, be very well equipped, with automatic weapons. So they were very well prepared. It’s definitely a terror attack.”

Michael Ludwig, mayor of Vienna, said 15 people were admitted to hospital, seven with serious injuries.

A police officer was among the injured, Austrian police confirmed on Twitter.

Ms Patel said the UK, which has seen a number of terror atrocities in recent years, including an attack on Parliament in 2017, stood “ready to support” Austria following the shooting rampage.

The Home Secretary tweeted: “Deeply shocked and saddened by the incident that has taken place in Vienna this evening.

“My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected and we stand ready to support in any way we can.”

Vienna’s streets were reportedly particularly busy as people took to bars and restaurants on the eve of the introduction of harsher restrictions aimed at preventing the spread of Covid-19.

Police urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport in the city.

Oskar Deutsch, the head of the Jewish community in Vienna, said the shooting took place in the street where the city’s main synagogue is located but that it was not clear whether it had been targeted.

The synagogue was closed at the time of the shooting, he added.

Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told the Associated Press he saw at least one person fire as many as “100 rounds” at people sitting outside at bars in the street below his window.

“All these bars have tables outside. This evening is the last evening before the lockdown,” he said.

“As of midnight, all bars and restaurants will be closed in Austria for the next month, and a lot of people probably wanted to use that evening to be able to go out.”