At least three people were killed, including a gunman, and 14 others injured in shootings in the Austrian capital of Vienna, just hours before a national lockdown was to come into force against the Covid-19 pandemic, authorities said on Tuesday.
According to the police, the shootings took place in six different locations at about 8 p.m. on Monday, near the Seitenstettengasse synagogue, when a suspect, armed with an automatic rifle, a pistol and a machete, opened fire on people outside bars and restaurants which have now been closed until the end of this month as per the new lockdown rules, the BBC reported.
Members of the special forces arrived at the scene shortly, and managed to shoot the perpetrator.
It was not immediately clear how many attackers were involved in the shooting, but the Interior Ministry said that the police were searching for at least one suspect, who is absconding.
According to local media reports, one person has been arrested.
In a statement, Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig confirmed that while one of the victims died on the spot, the other succumbed to her injuries in a hospital later.
Of the 14 injured, which includes a police officer, six were in critical condition, he added.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz confirmed that one gunman was killed in the "repulsive terror attack", but did not provide any other details.
"We are experiencing difficult hours in our republic", the BBC quoted Kurz as saying on Twitter, adding that the army would take over the security of major buildings in Vienna.
"Our police will act decisively against the perpetrators of this hideous terrorist attack. We will never allow ourselves to be intimidated by terrorism," he said.
The incident has been strongly condemned by European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, who said that Europe must not "give up" in the face of attacks.
"We the French people share the shock and grief of the Austrian people, struck this evening by an attack in the heart of their capital, Vienna.
"After France, a friend of ours is attacked. This is our Europe. Our enemies must know who they are dealing with," he said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was "deeply shocked by the terrible attack", adding that the country's "thoughts are with the people of Austria – we stand united with you against terror".
While European Council President Charles Michel called the incident a cowardly act that violated life and human values, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it was "a heinous act".
The Vienna incident comes days after a string of recent terror attacks in France.
On October 16, middle-school teacher, Samuel Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old Muslim immigrant, Abdullakh Anzorov inside a school near Paris.
Then on October 29, Brahim Aouissaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian man, stabbed three people to death inside the Notre-Dame basilica in the city of Nice.
Three days later, a Greek Orthodox priest was seriously injured in a shooting outside a church in the city of Lyon.