Terrorists have struck in Vienna the night before the city was due to go into a second coronavirus lockdown.
At least one person is dead and more than a dozen injured in a series of attacks in six locations in the Austrian capital tonight.
Vienna’s pubs and restaurants had welcomed diners for one final night of mingling downtown before coronavirus restrictions were due to kick in.
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.
The timing of the attack suggests the gunmen deliberately took their last chance to strike when venues still had crowds in them, before the city cleared to help tackle the virus.
A nighttime curfew is due to be imposed in Vienna from 10pm-6am on Tuesday until the end of the month.
Cafés and restaurants will be able to sell takeaway only while venues such as gyms, museums and theaters will have to shut.
Schools, shops and hairdressers though will stay open, and pupils at secondary schools and universities will have their classes entirely online.
Austria’s new coronavirus cases are averaging around 5,000 a day with the pandemic in Austria deteriorating “almost explosively,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.
Reports claimed several shooters opened fire around 8pm at six locations around the central city, in what officials say is a suspected terror attack by gunmen armed with rifles.
Local reports claimed shots were fired near a synagogue, a pub and a hotel in a series of attacks this evening – although the targets were unclear.
Footage from the Schwedenplatz area of the city appeared to show gunmen opening fire.
Vienna Police said the incident remains active and they are still warning people to take shelter, stay off public transport and away from public places.
Austrian newspaper the Kurer spoke to a witness who claimed a gunman opened fire on people sitting in a beer garden.
The gunman did not shoot toward the temple, opening fire at the people who were sitting in a beer garden nearby, he said.
Witnesses told local media they saw ‘several’ perpetrators on the run, prompting officials to halt public transport in and out of the inner city as police launched a major operation.
A 53-year-old witness told the Kurer he was dining in a restaurant when he heard the sound of gunfire.
The restaurant shut the doors and diners lay on the floor, he said.
Local media were initially reporting the attack took place near the synagogue, in Vienna’s First District.
But the head of Austria’s Jewish community, Oskar Deutsch, wrote on Twitter shortly after the incident unfolded that it was not clear whether the synagogue in Seitenstettengasse was a target, noting it was closed at the time.
Viennese Police confirmed one person had been killed and several seriously injured – including a police officer – across six crime scenes on Monday night.
One suspect had been shot and killed by police, the force added.
Police said there are “several suspects armed with rifles”.
Chancellor of Austria 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,” he continued.
“We will never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks resolutely by all means.”
Austria’s Interior minister Karl Nehammer told TV channel ORF that the shooting is believed to be a terror attack.
“At the moment I can confirm we believe this is an apparent terror attack,” he said.
“We believe there are several perpetrators. Unfortunately there are also several injured, probably also dead.”
Authorities gave no indication of the identity of the assailants or reason for the attack.
President Emmanuel Macron of France, which has seen two deadly knife attacks in Paris and Nice in recent weeks, issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow.
“This is our Europe,” he said. “Our enemies must know with whom they are dealing. We will not retreat.”