Germany steps up checks at Austria border after Vienna attack

Germany has stepped up checks at its border with Austria following multiple shootings that have left four people dead.

Germany steps up checks at Austria border after Vienna attack
Archive photo shows police at a border checkpoint in Bavaria near the Austrian border in March 2020. Photo: DPA

One of the suspected perpetrators, identified as an Islamic State group sympathiser, was shot dead by police following Tuesday night's shootings in the Austrian capital that have left four people dead. 

A manhunt is currently underway for an assailant still at large. Police in Austria are liaising with federal officers in Germany.

Tightened controls at the border between Germany and Austria is now a “tactical priority” for the federal police force, a spokesman for German federal police told news agency AFP.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the shootings, saying:  “Islamist terror is our common enemy”.

“The fight against these assassins and those who instigate them is our common struggle,” Merkel's spokesperson said, adding: “solidarity” with Austria.

The first shots were fired shortly after 8pm near the Schwedenplatz underground station in Vienna. After that shots were fired at five further locations in the city.

UPDATE: Gunman on the run after Vienna attack leaves four dead

Merkel expressed her shock at the suspected terrorist attack. “In these terrible hours when Vienna has become the target of terrorist violence, my thoughts are with the people there and the security forces who are facing danger,” the Chancellor said in her statement.

“We Germans stand in sympathy and solidarity with our Austrian friends,” she added.

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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.