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27 Dec, 2018 17:14

Vienna church attack: 5 injured in suspected robbery by 2 assailants

Vienna church attack: 5 injured in suspected robbery by 2 assailants

Austrian's capital has been rocked by an unprecedentedly brazen burglary, after two suspects stormed a monastery church in the northern part of Vienna and robbed it, leaving about a dozen monks injured.

The crime occurred in broad daylight; the perpetrators broke into the Church of Maria Immaculata in Vienna’s district of Floridsdorf around 13:30 local time (12:30 GMT), police said in a statement.

The robbery lasted for hours, they reported, adding that police have also found “tied and [in some instances] heavily injured” monks only three hours later.

A large-scale manhunt was launched following the incident as major police forces were deployed to the scene as the area around the church was cordoned off. The officers also asked local residents to avoid the area and “let [our] colleagues do their job.”

In a follow-up statement, the police said that at least one of the attackers “demanded valuables and cash” from the monks. The investigators also said they are not treating the incident as a terrorist attack while also admitting that the exact motives behind the robbery are “still unclear.”

Police have confirmed that five people, all of them monks, were injured in the attack. One monk suffered serious injuries. A 68-year-old monk was at the premises of the church when the robbers broke in. They threatened the man with a firearm and forced him to lie on the ground.

The perpetrators then hit him and trampled upon him, inflicting serious head injuries, the Austrian Kronen Zeitung reports. Four more monks, who arrived at the church later, were also attacked and injured, police spokesman Harald Soeroes told Kronen Zeitung.

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The suspects are still on the run, their identities unknown. Soeroes described one of the suspects as a 5.9-feet tall man with dark hair. “Both men speak German and have a foreign accent,” the police spokesman said.

The incident comes less than a week after the Austrian capital was rocked by another high-profile criminal incident. One person was killed and one injured in a shootout at a popular tourist restaurant located in a historic quarter of Vienna. At that time, the incident was said to be a “targeted crime” while a terrorist motive was ruled out as well.

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