Oskar Deutsch, an Austrian Jewish businessman who has served as President of the Jewish Community in Vienna and Head of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Austria since 2012, tweeted overnight Tuesday, following the terrorist attack near the Stadttempel Synagogue in Vienna (Terror Attack near Vienna Synagogue, Dead and Wounded Reported), that “whether the city temple was also the target of the attack can currently neither be confirmed nor ruled out. The synagogue was already closed because the evening prayer had ended. An assassin shot passers-by in front of the building.”
Two civilians and one of the attackers died in the Vienna attacks on Monday night. Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer reported that at least one gunman has escaped and remains at large. The minister said the attackers were “heavily armed and dangerous” and called on the public to remain indoors for their safety. The attacks began with a barrage of gunfire. The dead attacker was shot near St Rupert’s Church and there was a report that he was wearing an explosive suicide belt – which has not been confirmed by the police.
The mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, said that 15 individuals, including a police officer, were injured in the attack that began after 8 PM local time. Seven of them are in serious condition.
It is not yet clear how many armed attackers were involved in the attacks that erupted in six different locations. The assaults, by an unknown number of shooters carrying long firearms, occurred at six locations close to the Seitenstettengasse Temple (Stadttempel, or city house of prayer) in the heart of Vienna.
According to Oskar Deutsch, “the police secured the inner city with a large number of special forces. As before, the situation has not been fully clarified. The IKG (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde Wien – the Jewish community of Vienna) is in close contact with the police.”
Deutch added: “Based on the current risk assessment, we are all called to stay at home or in a lockable building. All synagogues, Jewish schools, and the institutions of the IKG, kosher restaurants, and supermarkets will remain closed tomorrow as a precaution. Please follow the instructions of the police!”
According to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the attacks were “definitely” acts of terrorism, and “very professionally” planned. He sent the Austrian army to patrol the streets of Vienna.
The attack took place on the eve of a new coronavirus lockdown, and so schools were going to remain closed in Vienna on Tuesday anyway.