Vienna gunman posted photo of himself with his weapons on social media before rampage

Vienna gunman posted photo of himself with his weapons on social media before rampage
By: World News Posted On: November 03, 2020 View: 17

Vienna gunman posted photo of himself with his weapons on social media before rampage

A gunman who killed four people in Vienna posted a photo of himself on social media with two of the weapons he apparently used in the terror attack - before he carried out his rampage.

Kujtim Fejzulai went on a shooting spree outside the Austrian capital's largest synagogue and also through the city's nightlife district on Monday evening.

The 20-year-old fired indiscriminately at members of the public who were enjoying final meals before the bars and restaurants shut for a coronavirus lockdown.

Islamic State (IS) has said it is responsible for the attack without providing evidence, according to a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

The statement was accompanied by a picture of a bearded man named "Abu Dagnah Al-Albany", and added he attacked crowds in central Vienna with a gun and a machine gun before being killed by police.

Fejzulai, described as an Islamic extremist, had been sentenced to 22 months in prison in April 2019 because he had tried to travel to Syria to join Islamic State (IS).

But under juvenile detention law, the Austrian-North Macedonian dual citizen was granted early release in December.

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Fejzulai's lawyer in the 2019 case, Nikolaus Rast, told public broadcaster ORF that his client had seemed "completely harmless" at the time.

Wreath at the scene of the attack in Vienna
Image: A wreath was laid at one of the scenes of the attack in Vienna

Austria's interior minister Karl Nehammer said that before Monday's attack, Fejzulai had posted a photo on his Instagram account that showed him with two weapons.

Mr Nehammer added that armed police shot the killer dead at the scene within nine minutes of his deadly rampage beginning.

But in that time, armed with an automatic rifle, a handgun and a machete, and wearing a fake explosive vest, he was able to fatally wound two men and two women. One has been identified as a German national.

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People fled from Vienna's bars and restaurants

Mr Nehammer said the evidence gathered so far shows no indication there was a second assailant involved in the attack.

However North Macedonia's interior ministry has said three people involved in the Vienna attacks have dual citizenship.

The ministry has said all three were born in Austria, naming them only by their initials.

Swiss police arrested two people in the city of Winterthur as part of an investigation into possible links to Fejzulai, authorities in Zurich said in a statement on Tuesday.

The force said in a statement: "The two men were arrested on Tuesday afternoon in coordination with the Austrian authorities.

"The extent to which there was a connection between the two arrested persons and the alleged assassin is currently the subject of ongoing clarifications and investigations which are being carried out by the responsible authorities."

People in Vienna were urged to stay at home if possible on Tuesday and children did not have to go to school. Around 1,000 police officers were on duty in the city on Tuesday morning.

Of the 24 people injured in the attack, 13 are still in hospital. Three remain in a critical condition, including a police officer who tried to stop the gunman.

Vienna's hospital service said seven people were in a life-threatening condition after the attack, the Austrian news agency APA reported.

A police car stands in front of a residential building in Sankt Poelten, Austria, where raids were carried out on November 3, 2020 in connection with the Vienna shooting one day before. - The only known gunman in the Vienna attack which left four people dead was a convicted supporter of the Islamic State group and had dual Macedonian-Austrian nationality, Austria's interior minister said.
Image: A police car in front of a residential building in Sankt Poelten, Austria, where raids were carried out

Police have raided a number of properties across the city and arrested 14 people who have suspected links to the attacker.

The government has announced three days of national mourning, and a minute's silence was held at noon.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the incident was "clearly an Islamist terror attack".

He added: "It was an attack out of hatred - hatred for our fundamental values, hatred for our way of life, hatred for our democracy in which all people have equal rights and dignity."

It has since emerged that four musicians from the orchestra of the Vienna State Opera continued to play after their audience was told it was not safe to leave because the gunman was on the loose outside.

Video footage posted on Twitter by a member of the audience shows a string quartet playing to those remaining in the auditorium.

VIENNA, AUSTRIA - MARCH 11: A tram passes by the Vienna State Opera on March 11, 2020 in Vienna, Austria. To help combat the spread of the coronavirus the Austrian government has forbid all indoor events with more than 100 people attending and all outdoor events for more than 500 people. Federal Museums closed after an administrative order by the government. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
Image: Members of the Vienna State Opera played on while the incident unfolded outside its doors

A spokeswoman for the Vienna State Opera said management had been informed by police during the interval of Monday's performance of operas "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "Pagliacci" that there were attacks taking place nearby.

They had a sold-out crowd of 1,000 guests on the last night before a new COVID-19 lockdown took effect.

The spokeswoman said: "We considered whether we should interrupt the performance or not. But we decided that would make no sense. If people weren't allowed to leave anyway, why should we stop early?"

They completed the operas and after two curtain calls the State Opera House's director went onto the stage.

"He described what was happening - that there were terror attacks in the city, it was forbidden to leave and the doors were locked, people must stay inside, but we would be opening the refreshment areas and do everything to keep people comfortable."

Fejzulai's lawyer in the 2019 case, Nikolaus Rast, told public broadcaster ORF that his client had seemed "completely harmless" at the time.

"He was a young man who was searching for his place in society, who apparently went to the wrong mosque, ended up in the wrong circles," Mr Rast said. "I can't say exactly what happened."

Fejzulai's family "wasn't strictly religious at all; the family wasn't radical - it was a completely normal family", he added. "I still remember that the family couldn't believe what had happened with their son."

The killings in Vienna came before the UK's terror threat was raised from "substantial" to "severe", meaning an attack is now judged to be highly likely.

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