Described as a "repulsive terrorist attack" by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, on Monday around 8 pm, the attackers launched their horror on the streets of the old district of Vienna near the Danube, as hundreds of citizens enjoyed a last night of freedom before a second lockdown at COVID-19.
As police shut down and sealed off large parts of central Vienna in a manhunt, several 'heavily armed and dangerous' assailants remained on the loose, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said late on Monday.
Residents have been urged to remain indoors.
We have brought together several units of special forces that are now searching for alleged terrorists. Therefore, because these are mobile perpetrators, I am not limiting it to an area of Vienna,' Mr. Nehammer told ORF broadcaster.
Austrian police said investigations were continuing into the assault at the time of publication in Australia, confirming that one person was killed, including one of the gunmen. Several individuals were injured, some in surrounding hospitals in critical condition.
The BBC reported that Vienna Mayor Michael Ludwig confirmed that one of the victims was killed at the scene of the shooting, while another, a woman, died from her wounds later in the hospital. Fourteen other individuals are believed to remain in hospital, six in a serious condition.
The Ministry of the Interior said a police officer was among the injured.
The police also said they had one of the attackers shot dead.
Mr. Nehammer said that all six locations in the attack were located in the immediate vicinity of the central synagogue's street.
On Twitter, Jewish community leader Oskar Deutsch said it was not clear whether the target was the Vienna Synagogue and the adjacent offices and that they were closed at the time.
"We live in the Synagogue Complex. We looked down from the windows upon hearing shots and saw the gunmen shooting at the guests of the various bars and pubs,' Rabbi Schlomo Hofmeister told LBC radio in London.
"The gunmen were running around in front of our building and shooting at least 100 rounds or even more."
Videos of a gunman running down a cobblestone street shooting and screaming have circulated on social media.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz described what had happened as a "repulsive terrorist attack" and said that the military would protect the capital's sites so that the police could concentrate on anti-terror operations.
The attack occurred hours before a partial lockdown due to rising coronavirus spread, with shuttered restaurants, cafes and hotels, and night movement restrictions.
There was no indication by the authorities of the identity of the assailants or the reason for the attack.