VIENNA, March 15 (AP): Austrian police warned Wednesday of a possible “Islamist-motivated attack” in Vienna against churches, citing undisclosed information the country’s intelligence service had received.
Police in Vienna tweeted that they had heightened security in front of certain buildings, including churches, and increased the presence of officers in the Austrian capital.
“There is a nonspecific threat of an assault against churches,” Vienna police tweeted.
“As precautionary measure … points of interest have been put under increased guard by regular and special operation police forces.”
“If there is a concrete danger for the population at a concrete location, Vienna police will warn immediately via all available channels,” police added.
Police said they could not say how long their security measures would be in place for.
“Police officers are equipped with bulletproof helmets and vests and assault rifles. They will carry out surveillance activities and also carry out checks in road traffic,” police spokesman Markus Dittrich told local radio station Radio Wien.
He did not give any further details on the background of the threat but said that more police would be seen patrolling in the vicinity of churches.
A spokesman for the archdiocese of Vienna told The Associated Press that Catholic churches did not appear to be the main target.
“We do not appear to be primarily affected,” Michael Prueller said.
“While we were informed by police about the general threat, we were also told that there is no imminent danger for Catholics. So we decided to keep our churches open to the public and celebrate all church services as planned for the time being.”
Vienna’s famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral was packed with believers and tourists on Wednesday.
Police called on people not to spread images or video of deployed police officers on social media.
In 2020, a man who had previously tried to join the Islamic State group rampaged in Vienna armed with an automatic rifle and a fake explosive vest, shooting dead four people before he was killed by police.