- "Enough violence! Let us together strengthen peace and fraternity."
- “They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building,” Hofmeister said.
- The attack prompted swift condemnations and promises of support from international leaders.
Via the social media platform Twitter, Pope Francis expressed his “pain and dismay” over the Vienna terrorist attack, in which five lives were lost. He demanded an end to violence to build peace “together” in society, and to live without hatred. One of the suspects of the attack, a young man aged 20, was shot dead by police.
Pope Francis tweeted:
“I express my sorrow and dismay for the terrorist attack in Vienna, and I pray for the victims and their families. Enough violence! Let us together strengthen peace and fraternity. Only love can silence hate.”
The attacker had dual citizenship, that of Austria and North Macedonia, and had been released on parole last December after serving part of a 22-month prison sentence for trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
The shooting ensued shortly after 20:00 (19:00 GMT) near Vienna’s main synagogue, as many people enjoyed one last night of open bars and restaurants before the coronavirus quarantine began at midnight. The attacker was killed at 20:09, according to Vienna Police Chief Gerhard Purstl.
Unverified images shared on social media showed a gunman walking down the street and shooting people seemingly at random, injuring multiple people. It was unclear if the person who appeared shooting was the same in all the videos.
Vienna’s Chief Rabbi, Schlomo Hofmeister, said he saw at least one person shoot at people sitting outside at bars in the street below his window. “They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building,” Hofmeister said.
“All these bars have tables outside. This evening is the last evening before the lockdown,” he added. “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.”
The attack prompted swift condemnations and promises of support from international leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron said thus:
“We, the French, share the shock and the grief of the Austrian people struck this evening by an attack in the heart of their capital, Vienna. After France, it is a friendly country that is attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with. We will not give up anything.”
On his part, Luigi Di Maio, the Italian Foreign Minister called it “a cowardly attack, which we strongly condemn. Italy is close to the Austrian people. Europe must react.”
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister of Greece, also joined his fellow world leaders in condemning the attack. He said:
“Shocked by the horrific attacks in Vienna. I have conveyed to @sebastiankurz our full solidarity. Our thoughts are with the people in Vienna and the authorities dealing with the situation. Our hearts, with the victims and their loved ones.”