Pakistan ‘strongly condemns’ mass shooting in Austria

Pakistan extends “our deepest condolences & sympathies to families of victims”, the Foreign Office said. The News/via

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday reiterated “its condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations” following a mass shooting in the Austrian capital that left at least two people dead and almost 15 injured.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the heinous terrorist attack in Central Vienna on Monday night, resulting in loss of precious lives & wounding many more,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Twitter.

“We extend our deepest condolences & sympathies to families of victims & wish speedy recovery to those injured,” they added.

‘Suspects armed with rifles’

Late last night, a gunfire incident left at least two people, including an attacker, dead in central Vienna, with police saying the injured included an officer.

The attack was carried out by “several suspects armed with rifles”, and police added that there had been “six different shooting locations”.

Gunshots were fired at around 8pm local time (1900 GMT), beginning at the Seitenstettengasse in the city’s centrally-located first district.

The shooting began just hours before Austria was to reimpose a fresh lockdown to try to slow the spread of coronavirus, with restaurants and bars packed as people enjoyed a final night of relative freedom.

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer told public broadcaster ORF that the incident “appeared to be a terrorist attack” and urged Viennese to remain in their homes.

‘Immediate vicinity’ of Stadttempel synagogue

Nehammer repeated police appeals to residents to keep away from all public places or public transport, as frequent sirens and helicopters could be heard in the city centre as emergency services responded to the incident.

An AFP photographer said large numbers of police were guarding an area near the city’s world-famous opera house.

The president of Vienna’s Jewish community Oskar Deutsch said shots were fired “in the immediate vicinity” of the Stadttempel synagogue but added that it was currently unknown whether the worship place itself had been the target of an attack.

The synagogue and office buildings at the same address had been closed at the time of the attack, he added.

France shares Austrians’ ‘sorrow’: Macron

“It sounded like firecrackers, then we realised it was shots,” said one eyewitness quoted by public broadcaster ORF.

A shooter had “shot wildly with an automatic weapon” before the police arrived and opened fire, the witness added.

Austria had until now been spared the sort of major attacks that have hit other European countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that “we French share the shock and sorrow of the Austrian people”.

“After France, it’s a friendly nation that has been attacked,” he added, referring to the killing on Thursday of three people by a knife-armed attacker in southern city Nice and the beheading of a schoolteacher by a suspected extremist outside Paris several days before.

EU Council chief Charles Michel tweeted that the bloc “strongly condemns this cowardly act”.

And Germany’s foreign ministry tweeted that the reports from Austria were “horrifying and disturbing”.

“We can’t give in to hatred that is aimed at dividing our societies,” the ministry added.

‘No room for hatred and violence’

Czech police said they had started random checks on the border with Austria.

“Police are carrying out random checks of vehicles and passengers on border crossings with Austria as a preventive measure in relation to the terror attack in Vienna,” Czech police tweeted.

Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said in a tweet Czech police were in touch with Austrian colleagues following the “dreadful news from Vienna”.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also “strongly condemned” the shootings.

“There is no room for hatred and violence in our common European home,” he said on Twitter in Italian and German.

Additional input from AFP

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