Two Austrian men of Turkish descent said they helped save a police officer and two women during a deadly gun attack in Vienna, actions the Turkish government described as heroic.
The men’s actions drew praise from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose country’s relations with Austria have been strained in recent years.
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Cavusoglu also offered condolences to Austria on Tuesday after the gun attack on Monday night in which five people died, including the attacker.
Recep Tayyip Gultekin told Turkish state-owned Anadolu news agency that he and Mikail Ozen had been in Vienna city centre when they heard gunshots, headed in the direction of the noise, and saw a gunman shooting a passer-by.
“Last night there were two heroes in Vienna. Recep Tayyip and Mikail did what a true Turk and Muslim is expected to do! Thank you young men. We are proud of you!” Cavusoglu wrote on Twitter.
Dün gece Viyana’da iki kahraman vardı. Bir Türk ve Müslümanın yapması gereken neyse onu yaptı.
Recep Tayyip ve Mikail!
Sizlerle GURUR DUYUYORUZ !🇹🇷 https://t.co/R0n4WqWTgo
— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) November 3, 2020
Gultekin said he carried the wounded woman to a nearby restaurant, and “the terrorist pointed his gun at me”, adding he threw himself to the ground and slightly hurt his leg.
“We got into my friend’s car and went to the nearest police station to report the incident,” he said.
Gultekin said they also helped an elderly woman move to a safe location.
Ozen, a personal trainer and mixed martial arts fighter, described to journalists how he and Gultekin also assisted a policeman during the attack.
He said two policemen, who threw themselves onto the wounded officer to protect him, urged the pair to stay back for their safety.
But he said they walked over and carried the injured policeman to an ambulance.
“They were shocked and we were shocked … The paramedics were standing over there … We looked at each other and we just walked over. We did what was necessary,” he said.
“I, as a Muslim of Turkish descent, want to say I live in Austria, I was born in Austria, I went to school in Austria and learned my profession here in Austria,” Ozen said. “If the same thing were to happen again today, I would do the exact same thing without a second thought. Because we live in Austria, we stand with Austria.”
Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer at a news conference said: “It’s important for me to mention that the injured police officer was brought to safety by two Austrians with an immigration background.”
‘Need to combat terrorism’
In a Twitter post, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the European Union ambassador to Turkey, also thanked the two men for their help.
Quoting Cavusoglu’s tweet on Gultekin and Ozer, the ambassador said: “Mr Minister, we thank Turkish citizens Recep Tayyip Gultekin and Mikal Ozer for helping those injured in the attacks in Vienna and congratulate them.”
Cavusoglu phoned Austria’s foreign minister to express his solidarity.
“As a country that has suffered a lot from terrorism and terror attacks, we are against all types of terror. We believe that there is a need to combat all forms of terrorism without making any distinction,” he told reporters on Tuesday.