Pope Francis has sent condolences to the people of Austria after deadly terror attacks in Vienna that began Monday evening near Seitenstettengasse synagogue at roughly 8 p.m. when multiple suspects opened fire on passers-by.
The attacks spread across six city locations. At least four people are dead and twenty-two others are reported injured, not counting one of the suspects. Police shot and killed a 20-year-old man with dual Austrian and North Macedonian citizenship who had been released early from prison in December of last year. Reports say the deceased suspect was carrying an assault rifle and was wearing a fake explosive vest. He was known to authorities as an ISIS-sympathiser.
Austria’s Prime Minister, Sebastian Kurz, condemned the attacks and promised: “We will never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism and will fight these attacks resolutely by all means.”
The Prime Minister also ordered the army to help maintain security and order while police carry out operations. “So that the police can concentrate fully on the fight against terrorism,” Kurz tweeted Monday evening, “the federal government has decided that the armed forces will take over the property protection previously carried out by the police in Vienna with immediate effect.”
The attacks of Monday evening came just before new coronavirus restrictions came into force, as people availed themselves of a final opportunity to relax and socialise before the lockdown went into place.
Police conducted raids on as many as fifteen different locations throughout Tuesday and have reportedly arrested more than a dozen people.
“Deeply affected,” begins the telegram signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and addressed to the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, “the Holy Father Francis learned of the violent acts in Vienna that have brought death and pain to innocent people.”
“His Holiness expresses his profound partaking of the suffering of the victims and their families, and of the entire Austrian people,” the telegram continues. “He is also close to the wounded and prays for their speedy recovery.”
Entrusting the victims to the mercy of God, Pope Francis prays “that violence and hatred may cease and peaceful coexistence in society be promoted,” and offers his Apostolic Blessing to all affected by the tragedy.