Austrian officials said Tuesday a perpetrator of an attack in Vienna, Austria, that killed at least four people and wounded 14 others was a sympathizer of the Islamic State terror group.
“We experienced an attack last night by at least one Islamist terrorist,” Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told reporters. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Nehammer said the assailant was armed with an assault rifle and wore a fake suicide vest. He added in later comments to the Austrian news agency APA that the attacker was convicted last year of trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.
Police shot the assailant dead, and Nehammer said a search was ongoing Tuesday to see if anyone else was involved in the attack.
“At the moment we can't rule out that there are still other attackers out there. That's why we are investigating the environment of the attacker and also all of Vienna in order to make sure whether there was just one perpetrator or two,” he said.
Authorities advised people to stay away from public places and public transport. Students in Vienna were allowed to miss classes Tuesday.
The shootings took place late Monday at six locations in Vienna, hours before a partial lockdown was due to go into effect due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country. The dead included two men and a woman, while a police officer was among the wounded.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said his country “will not be intimidated by terrorists.” In a series of tweets he also said there is not a dispute between Christians and Muslims or between Austrians and migrants, but rather a struggle between those who believe in peace and those who want war.
Speaking to the Austrian public broadcasting station ORF, Nehammer said all six locations that were attacked were near a central city street that house’s Vienna’s main synagogue.
Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said on Twitter that it was not clear whether the synagogue and its adjoining offices had been the target of the attack. He said the buildings were closed at the time of the violence.
President Emmanuel Macron of France, which has faced several recent attacks blamed on Muslim extremists, tweeted that the French "share the shock and grief of the Austrian people hit by an attack tonight."
"This is our Europe," he said. "Our enemies must know with whom they are dealing. We will not retreat."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed solidarity with neighboring Austria in a statement Tuesday, saying, “The fight against Islamist terrorism is our common struggle.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States “strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Vienna.”
“We express our deepest sympathy to the families of those killed and wounded,” Pompeo said. “We affirm our support for the police and first responders, and stand in solidarity with the people of Austria.”