Gunmen responsible for a terror attack in Vienna that has left several people killed remain at large overnight.
A huge police manhunt is underway to find the attackers, one of whom was shot and killed by police.
Gunfire was heard at six locations across the Austrian capital with unconfirmed reports of up to seven people being killed. Two civilian deaths have been confirmed by Austrian officials.
Vienna police have said the ‘well prepared’ attack was carried out by several suspects armed with rifles.
They added one suspect was shot and killed by police. A police officer is also thought to have been seriously injured.
The attack was first reported near a synagogue at 8pm local time.
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Pictures and video appeared to show gunshots being fired in the area of one of the city’s main squares, with police flooding the scene. Residents are being urged to stay indoors.
One witness claimed to have seen a gunman open fire on people sitting in a beer garden, while footage posted on social media appeared to show armed police walking through a restaurant looking for suspects.
Witness Chris Zhao was in a nearby restaurant when the shooting started.
He told the BBC: “We heard noises that sounded like firecrackers. We heard about 20 to 30 and we thought that to be actually gunfire. We saw the ambulances… lining up.
“There were victims. Sadly, we also saw a body lying down the street next to us.”
Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig said 15 people were admitted to hospital, seven with serious injuries.
The terror attack comes on the last evening before Austria goes into a coronavirus lockdown, with bars and restaurants in the country closed from midnight tonight.
“Shots fired in the Inner City district – there are persons injured – KEEP AWAY from all public places or public transport,” the police warned on Twitter.
“We have brought several special forces units together that are now searching for the presumed terrorists. I am therefore not limiting it to an area of Vienna because these are mobile perpetrators,” Nehammer told broadcaster ORF.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described the shootings as a ‘hideous terrorist attack’.
He tweeted: “We are currently going through difficult times in our republic. I would like to thank all the emergency services who risk their lives, especially today for our safety.
“Our police will take decisive action against the perpetrators of this hideous terrorist attack. I am glad that our police officers have already been able to eliminate a perpetrator.
“We will never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks resolutely by all means.”
Austrian authorities have not ruled out an anti-Semitic motive for the attack, Chancellor Kurz said.
He told reporters: “We really can’t say anything about the background yet.
“Of course an anti-Semitic background cannot be ruled out.”
Police urged people to avoid all open spaces and public transport in the city. They also said trams and buses were not stopping and urged social media users not to post videos of the police operation.
Terrified crowds were locked in restaurants until areas have been secured
Many were left sitting on the floor in the dark while they waited to be let out by cops.
Oskar Deutsch, the head of the Jewish community in Vienna, said the shooting took place in the street where the city’s main synagogue is located but that it wasn’t clear whether the house of worship had been targeted.
The synagogue was already closed at the time of the shooting, Deutsch tweeted. A neighbouring restaurant was also closed.
“We are living in the compound of the synagogue. Upon hearing shots we looked down (from) the windows and saw the gunmen shooting at the guests of the various bars and pubs,” Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told London’s LBC radio.
“The gunmen were running around and shooting at least 100 rounds or even more in front of our building,” he said.
Videos circulated on social media of a gunman running down a cobblestone street shooting and shouting.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed Europe would not bow to terrorists following the shootings.
“We French share the shock and sorrow of the Austrian people following the attack in Vienna,” Macron tweeted in both French and German.
“After France, it is a friendly nation that has been attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they’re dealing with. We will concede nothing.”
Both Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted to express solidarity with Austria.
Mr Johnson said: “I am deeply shocked by the terrible attacks in Vienna tonight.
“The UK’s thoughts are with the people of Austria – we stand united with you against terror.”