Austria’s chancellor vows to defend ‘fundamental values’ after Vienna attack

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz has condemned the terror attack in which a gunman killed four and left more than a dozen seriously injured in Vienna on Monday night as one of the country’s darkest hours since the end of the second world war.

“It was an attack out of hate — on our way of life, on our democracy”, Mr Kurz told a press conference on Tuesday. “Last night will go down as a tragedy in our history.”

The attack marked a fight between “civilisation and barbarism”, he said.

Shortly before 8pm on Monday, a 20-year-old man, originally from North Macedonia and known to authorities because of his extreme Islamist sympathies, began a rampage through Vienna’s densely packed old city, starting in Seitenstettengasse, close to the main synagogue, the Stadttempel.

Armed with an automatic rifle, handguns and a machete, he killed four people — two men and two women — and seriously injured at least 14 others. Seven of the injured are in a critical condition, according to the Austrian interior ministry.

Police shot and killed the perpetrator. He had been wearing a fake explosive suicide vest.

The attack comes days after a knifeman murdered three in a church in the French city of Nice and follows the decapitation of French history teacher Samuel Paty in Paris in mid-October. Both attacks have been confirmed as acts of Islamist terror.

“We will never forget the victims of this attack, and we will resolutely defend our fundamental values,” Mr Kurz said.

“Our enemy — Islamist extremism — which goes against all our values and is directed against our constitution, not only wants to cause death and suffering but would like to divide our society. We will not let that happen.”

Wreaths were placed in central Vienna after the attack © Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty
A café was left abandoned when a gunman went on the rampage © Alex Halada/AFP/Getty

More than 1,000 Austrian police have been drafted in to piece together the actions of the individual in the run-up to the attack and work out whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.

Several premises have been raided and a number of arrests have been made, according to police officials.

Mr Kurz ordered the Austrian army to be deployed to protect sensitive sites such as public transport hubs and synagogues across the country.

Austria is to enter a three-day period of “national mourning” from Tuesday, the government has announced.

Leaders across the world have condemned the attack. On Monday night, French president Emmanuel Macron said the people of France shared the “shock and pain” of Austrians. “This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they’re dealing with. We will yield nothing to them,” Mr Macron wrote on Twitter.

Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime minister, said he was “deeply shocked by the terrible attacks in Vienna”, while Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s premier, said that Israel stood “in total solidarity” with Austria.

Mr Macron has vowed to crack down on extremist ideology in the wake of the attacks in his country, condemning “Islamic separatism” and linking terrorist violence to a failure of some groups to integrate with European values.

At least six locations in Vienna have been cordoned off by police, including streets around St Stephen’s Cathedral and the Danube canal.

Schools have been closed and residents have been advised by police to remain at home until a clearer picture has emerged about the attack. Public transport in the centre of the city remains shut down.

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