Vienna terrorist attack: At least three dead, multiple injured in shooting targeting six locations

At least three people are dead and multiple others are wounded after a terrorist attack near a synagogue in the Austrian capital of Vienna.

Local police say at least 15 others were injured after multiple perpetrators armed with rifles began shooting in Seitenstettengasse Square - where the city's main synagogue is located - at 8am on Tuesday (NZT).

The suspects targeted six different locations, and one suspect, who was reportedly wearing an explosives belt, was shot and killed by officers.

At a press conference at 6:30pm (NZT), police confirmed three people - two men and one woman - had died in the attacks. An attacker was also killed, but it is unclear whether he is included in this total.

Police didn't confirm whether the attack was antisemitic, but said a "radicalised person" carried it out.

Vienna's Director-General for Public Security Franz Ruf said: "We have worked intensely on identifying the attacker."

He added the home of the attacker had been searched.

At an earlier press conference on Tuesday, it was confirmed that "several" people died in the attack and that at least one perpetrator remains on the run. The Guardian, translating updates from the Austrian authorities, says that children are not required to attend school on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said some of the "heavily armed and dangerous" suspects remained on the loose and that the perpetrators could have moved outside of Vienna. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the attackers "were very well equipped with automatic weapons" and had "prepared professionally".

Residents are being asked by police to keep away from "all public places" and "public transport".

"We are on duty with all possible forces. Please avoid all public places in the city."

Police have also asked all public transport operators not to stop in the district "until further notice".

Sebastian Kurz has called the event a "hideous terrorist attack".

"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," he tweeted.

"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.

"So that the police can concentrate fully on the fight against terrorism, 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."

Czech police tweeted after the shooting that it had "taken preventive measures at the border crossings with Austria".

"Police officers carry out random checks on vehicles and passengers. We are closely monitoring the situation in the neighboring state, so we will inform the public about any changes to the measure," a translation of a tweet said.

"Police officers exercise increased supervision over the most important Jewish buildings in the Czech Republic. We assure the public that the measures taken are exclusively of a preventive nature and reflect the development of the situation not only in neighbouring Austria."

Following the initial shooting, a large number of videos appeared on social media showing parts of the attacks. That's despite police urging residents not to share footage or photos. 

One video, which has since been removed from Twitter, showed an individual running along a street before firing a weapon. They appeared to be wearing a balaclava or face covering. 

Another showed a gunman shooting point-blank at a citizen. 

Although the shooting began near the city's main synagogue, it's unclear if the site of worship was the target. Oskar Deutsch, the President of the Israelite Religious Society in Austria, tweeted that the attack was in the synagogue's vicinity.

"What is certain, however, is that both the synagogue in Seitenstettengasse and the office building at the same address were no longer in operation and closed at the time of the first shots.

"In any case, there was shooting in the immediate vicinity of the city temple. All parishioners were asked not to enter public streets and to remain in closed rooms until the all-clear from the security authorities, who worked with the IKG security department."

Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told The Associated Press (AP) that he witnessed one suspect shooting at people at nearby bars.

"They were shooting at least 100 rounds just outside our building," Hofmeister said. 

The attack comes the night before Austria is to go into a COVID-19 lockdown.

"As of midnight, all bars and restaurants will be closed in Austria for the next month and a lot of people probably wanted to use that evening to be able to go out."

The Guardian reports that "online a large wave of anti-immigrant sentiment has already begun to emerge". That's despite the identities and motives of the attackers not yet being known.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is "deeply shocked" by the attacks.

"The UK’s thoughts are with the people of Austria - we stand united with you against terror."

Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, also says he is "deeply shocked".

"The situation remains fluid and details of the attack are still not clear. I have contacted Austrian Chancellor @sebastiankurz to convey our thoughts, condolences and assurances to the Austrian people.

"We pray for, and stand firm with, our Austrian friends against acts of violence, terror and intimidation, and all they seek to undermine."

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, which itself has dealt with violent attacks in recent days, has tweeted about the shooting.

"We, French, share the shock and grief of the Austrians after an attack in Vienna. After France, it is a friendly country that is under attack. This is our Europe. Our enemies need to know who they are dealing with. We will not give in."

Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte says: "A terrible attack near a synagogue in Vienna. I have just conveyed full solidarity from the Netherlands to @sebastiankurz. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, and with the Austrian government in dealing with this heinous act".

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the EU Commission, tweeted her thoughts.

"I am shocked and saddened by the brutal attack that took place in Vienna. My thoughts are with the families of the victims and the Austrian people. Europe stands in full solidarity with Austria. We are stronger than hatred and terror."

The German Foreign Office has tweeted about the "terrifying and disturbing news". 

"Even we don’t know the full extent of the terror yet, our thoughts are with the injured and victims at this difficult time. We will not give way to hatred which is aimed at dividing our societies."