Vienna terror attack: 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.

He fired indiscriminately at members of the public who were enjoying final meals before the bars and restaurants shut for a coronavirus lockdown.

The 20-year-old, 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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