People of Europe and the world have been shocked by a new terrorist attack in the city of Vienna, the capital of Austria. The attack took place yesterday, on 2nd November near a busy street quite close to Vienna’s main synagogue (Jewish temple). Several gunmen shot the people on the streets, killing two men and one woman and also injuring 15 more. (Crowcroft, 2020)

How the attack took place?

This was quite an elaborate attack done in six different locations by multiple gunmen armed with rifles. The attack began at about 8 p.m. local time when the streets were filled with people who were having a final night out as the city was about to enter a partial lockdown.  According to the eye-witness, the terrorists started to open fire into the crowds in the bars with their automatic rifles. (Rueters, 2020)

Fortunately, the quick action from the security forces has prevented the attack from escalating any further. At least one of the attacker was shot dead by the police but other may be at large. Police also discovered a fake explosive vest on the body of the dead terrorist.

Austrian leader Kurz had told the reporters that the attackers “were very well equipped with automatic weapons” and had “prepared professionally”. In his tweet, he also stated, “Our police will act decisively against the perpetrators of this repulsive terror attack. We will never be intimidated by terrorism and we will fight this attack with all means”. He also said that the Army will patrol the streets while the police will conduct the anti-terror operations. (AFP, 2020)

Who were the attackers?

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer held a press conference on early Tuesday morning. According to him, investigators have already finished searching the home of the dead terrorist. From their report, it suggests that the attacker had great sympathy for the Islamic terrorist group called ISIS and is now being suspected as part of a terrorist organization.

Although one of the attackers was shot dead, others may be hiding. Nehammer also urged the people to remain vigilant and avoid public gathering in the streets. He described the current situation as the “most difficult day Austria has had in many years.” (Anderson, 2020)

What was the target of the attack?

The attack took place near the Stadttempel synagogue, which is the main synagogue of Vienna. Vienna’s Chief Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told reporters that he was in that synagogue’s compound and saw multiple gunmen firing into bars and restaurants. However, he said he “doubted it was an attack on the synagogue, adding: “At this time of night there is no activity taking place in the great synagogue, we don’t really know, however, what’s going on.” (Crowcroft, 2020)

Police are suspecting the target of the attack was the busy bars and restaurants. Many of those places were filled with people as the city was about to enter a partial lockdown the next day. The plan of the terrorist was to open fire and kill a huge amount of civilians. Although some people did die, the quick action by the police prevented the full completion of the terrorist’s plan. In 2017, the Austrian police also thwarted a similar terror attack by an 18-year old Jihadist with a migrant background. (BBC, 2017)

The city of Vienna remains on high alert. Many national leaders are condemning this attack and offering their support for the Austrian people. “We are all deeply affected by the suspected terrorist attack in central Vienna,” Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen tweeted.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted in German that, “We, French people, share in the shock and sorrow of Austrians after an attack in Vienna. After France, another friendly country has been attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give up.” Just a few days ago France suffered a similar attack when an Islamic terrorist stormed into a Catholic Church and attacked civilians with a knife. That incident also caused the death of three people. (BBC, France attack: Three killed in ‘Islamist terrorist’ stabbings, 2020)

The recent outrage among the Muslim community over the portrayal of Prophet Muhammad is being considered a vital reason behind such a rise in terror attacks in Europe. Many are dubbing these attacks as “Islamo-Fascism”.  Experts believe that actions like these will only bolster the already existing negative images of Muslim people and their religion across Europe and beyond.

References

AFP. (2020, 11 3). Gunman on the run after Vienna ‘terror attack’ leaves two dead. Retrieved from en.prothomalo.com: https://en.prothomalo.com/international/europe/gunman-on-the-run-after-vienna-terror-attack-leaves-two-dead

Anderson, E. (2020, 11 2). At least 3 dead in suspected terror attack near Vienna synagogue. Retrieved from Politico.eu: https://www.politico.eu/article/shots-near-vienna-synagogue-in-suspected-terror-attack/

BBC. (2017, 1 20). Austria arrest ‘foils terror attack’ in Vienna. Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38700439

BBC. (2020, 10 31). France attack: Three killed in ‘Islamist terrorist’ stabbings. Retrieved from BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-54729957

Crowcroft, E. B. (2020, 11 3). Vienna: Manhunt underway for gunmen after Austria shootings. Retrieved from Euronews.com: https://www.euronews.com/2020/11/02/several-injured-in-exchanges-of-fire-in-vienna-say-police-amid-reports-of-shooting-at-syna

Rueters. (2020, 11 3). At Least Three Killed, Several Injured in Suspected Terror Attack in Vienna. Retrieved from HAARETZ: https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/.premium-reports-of-attack-on-synagogue-in-central-vienna-large-police-deployment-1.9283176