A gunman was shot by the police. The authorities are urging the public to stay inside, and the total number of other gunmen is unclear.
Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz Interior Minister Carl Nehamer described the incident as a “terrorist attack”.
“We’re still fighting terrorists,” Nehammer said on Austria’s public broadcaster ORF, adding that several suspects are carrying assault rifles. “We assume there are several heavily armed perpetrators.”
According to police, gunshots took place in the Austrian capital around 8 p.m. local time, a few hours before the start of a national blockade to combat the resurgence of Corona 19.
Vin Mayor Michael Ludwig said attackers started shooting randomly in a busy area of cafés and restaurants near the Seitetenstettengasse Temple, Vienna’s main synagogue.
“We are trying to find out more about the perpetrators and keep the population safe,” he told ORF.
Kurz told ORF that “anti-Semitic motives cannot be ruled out.” Because the attack was close to the synagogue.
Oskar Deutsch, the head of the Jewish community in Vienna, said in a tweet that it was unclear whether the synagogue was the target, but was closed at the time of the shooting.
Kurz said Austrian troops were deployed to protect buildings and property. “We are currently going through a difficult period in our republic, especially today, thank you for all the emergency services that are risking their lives for our safety,” he added.
Across Europe, leaders strongly condemned the attack.
French President Emanuel Mark Long said on Twitter that it is “a friendly country next to France under attack.” France has experienced two terrorist attacks in recent weeks.
“Europe strongly condemns this cowardly act of violating life and human values,” said European Commission Chairman Charles Michelle on Twitter.
Other leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, issued statements expressing shock and grief.
This is an evolving story, and an update to follow.
Stephanie Halasz and Tim Lister contributed to this report.