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Illustration by Security Management

Terror Attacks Ring Out on Monday

A pair of deadly attacks in the last 24 hours reminds the world that terrorism remains a dire risk. In Vienna, Austria, a gunman shot and killed four people, wounding another 22, including at least one police officer. A suspect, Kujtim Fejzulai, was killed by police.

Also on Monday, a group associated with the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on Kabul University in Afghanistan that killed 22 people and injured another 27. The attack is described as “an hours-long siege” on the university in which students and faculty were held hostage.

The Vienna attack occurred Monday night in a nightlife district just hours before a new coronavirus lockdown was set to take effect. According to the Associated Press, “unverified video showed the gunman, dressed in white coveralls, firing off bursts apparently at random as he ran down the Austrian capital’s cobblestone streets.”

Last spring, Fejzulai was convicted of trying to join an Islamic State group in Syria and sentenced to 22 months in prison. He was released early in December 2019 under Austria’s juvenile incarceration laws. Authorities initially began an intensive search for accomplices, though the urgency of that search has de-escalated as more facts and evidence became known.

In a news conference, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said “It was an attack motivated by hate—hate for our core values, hate for our way of life, hate for our democracy in which all people are equal in rights and dignity. But it’s clear that we will not be intimidated by the terrorists. It is a battle between civilization and barbarism, and we will fight this battle with all determination.”

In Afghanistan, the government declared Tuesday a day of mourning. The deadly siege on Monday follows an attack last week on a different educational facility in Kabul. In the previous attack, a suicide bomber killed 24 people and wounded 57. The same Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for both attacks.

An Associated Press report describes the context of the attack as occurring “amid a soaring rise in violence and chaos across the country, even as the Taliban and government negotiators hold peace talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar.” The attacks have raised tensions and tempers in the delicate negotiations. The government blames the Taliban for fomenting unrest while the Taliban officially condemns the attacks.