Austrian police warned on Wednesday of possible “Islam-inspired attacks” against churches and other houses of worship in Vienna, citing undisclosed information obtained by the country’s intelligence service.
Police in Vienna tweeted that they had increased security in front of some buildings and increased the presence of officers in the Austrian capital.
Vienna police tweeted, “There is a non-specific threat of attack against churches.” “(A) As a precautionary measure … the points of interest have been augmented by regular and special operations police forces.”
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“If there is a concrete threat to the population in a specific location, the Vienna police will immediately issue a warning through all available channels,” the police said.
Later on Wednesday, Vienna police clarified in another tweet that the threat alert included not only churches but also other houses of worship.
“Our precautionary measures do not specifically affect Christian churches, but also houses of worship of different religions,” the police tweeted. He did not specify which other religious communities may be affected.
The police department said it could not predict how long their security measures would remain in place.
Police spokesman Markus Dietrich told local radio station Radio Wien: “The police officers are equipped with bulletproof helmets and vests and assault rifles. They will carry out surveillance activities and also check road traffic.”
He did not provide further details about the background of the threat, but said more police officers would be patrolling around churches. Police asked people not to post pictures or videos of police officers deployed on social media.
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A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Vienna told The Associated Press that Catholic churches do not appear to be the main targets.
“We don’t appear to be primarily affected,” said Michael Preuler. “While we were informed by the police of a general danger, we were also told that there was no imminent danger to Catholics. We therefore decided to keep the churches open to the public and to hold all church services in due course.” Celebrated as planned.”
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Vienna’s St. Stephen’s Cathedral was packed with worshipers and tourists on Wednesday.
More than half of Austria’s population is Roman Catholic, making it the largest religious denomination in the country. There are also small communities of Lutheran Christians, immigrant groups who identify as Orthodox Christians, as well as Muslims and Jews.
In 2020, a man who had previously tried to join the Islamic State group went on a rampage in Vienna armed with an automatic rifle and a fake explosive vest, shooting and killing four people before being killed by police .
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