‘No evidence of second attacker’ in Vienna shooting

Austria’s interior minister says police arrested 14 people in connection with Monday’s attacks.

The gunman was killed by police minutes after opening fire on crowded bars on Monday night [Michael Gruber/Getty Images]

Austrian police have arrested 14 people in raids linked to Monday’s deadly attack in Vienna and have found no evidence that a second shooter was involved, said Interior Minister Karl Nehammer.

Nehammer said police believe the shooting in central Vienna was carried out by a lone gunman, Kujtim Fejzulai, a 20-year-old Austrian-North Macedonian dual national, who wanted travel to Syria to join the ISIL (ISIS) group.

ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement issued through its Amaq News Agency along with a picture and video purporting to show the gunman. Fejzulai was killed by police on Monday night.

Officials said the perpetrator was armed with an automatic rifle, a handgun and a machete. Witnesses described crowds being fired on in bars on the eve of a nationwide coronavirus curfew.

An elderly man and woman, a young passerby and a waitress were killed, and 22 people, including a policeman, were wounded, according to Nehammer. Vienna’s mayor said three people were still in critical condition.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday that a German woman was among the victims.

“There have been 18 raids in Vienna and Lower Austria and 14 people have been detained,” Nehammer told a televised press conference on Tuesday.

After reviewing CCTV footage of the shooting, which took place not far from the historic Vienna opera house in an area teeming with people in bars and cafes, Nehammer said the video “does not at this time show any evidence of a second attacker”.

Two young Swiss men were also arrested near Zurich in connection with the attacks.

The gunman had been sentenced to 22 months in jail in April 2019 for attempting to travel to Syria to join ISIL (ISIS), but released early, in December.

Nehammer said Fejzulai attended a de-radicalisation programme, but “despite all the outward signs that he was integrating into society, the assailant apparently did exactly the opposite”.

Fejzulai had posted a photo on a social media account before the attack, showing himself with weapons, Nehammer said.

A police spokesman earlier said at least 1,000 officers had been involved in the search for accomplices. The army was guarding sensitive sites to free up police for the operation.

The attack followed shortly after deadly assaults by lone attackers in Nice and Paris, where Muslims were angered by the publication of satirical caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

On Tuesday, the centre of Vienna was largely deserted, with many shops closed, despite Austrian authorities playing down earlier suggestions that other shooters might still be on the run.

The government announced three days of national mourning and held a minute’s silence at noon.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies