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Austria closes mosque & religious association for ‘radicalization’ of presumed Vienna attacker

Austria closes mosque & religious association for ‘radicalization’ of presumed Vienna attacker
Austrian authorities have decided to close two religious facilities that contributed to the extremist views of the hardline Islamist accused of the Vienna attacks. The shootings left four people dead and more than 20 injured.

Austria’s interior and integration ministers announced the closure of radical mosques, APA news agency reported on Friday. The step was taken following a crisis meeting between the ministers and the head of the Islamic Religious Community of Austria (IGGO), Umit Vural.

Speaking at a press conference later in the day, Integration Minister Susanne Raab said that at least two religious venues contributed to the radicalization of the man who staged the deadly shooting. One of them, a mosque, has been already closed, another one, which is legally an association, was ordered to shut down as well.

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Austria’s Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, for his part, acknowledged that “unacceptable” mistakes have been made while handling the evidence available on the attacker. Earlier this week it emerged that Slovakia informed Austria about the Vienna attacker's attempt to purchase ammunition this summer, yet the valuable information got lost somehow.

Vienna police chief Gerhard Puerstl, in turn, said that more sustainable measures should have been taken against the attacker and if the Slovak intelligence had been duly processed the outcome of the whole chain of events would have been different. The official also revealed that four suspects, detained in Germany earlier on Friday, had spent time with the assailant.

The deadly attacks occurred across Austria’s capital late on Monday. Four people were gunned down after a shooting started near a synagogue in central Vienna, with 23 more injured across the city.

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The primary suspect, who was killed by police, turned out to be a 20-year-old Austrian citizen identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, who also held a North Macedonian passport. He had previously been jailed for trying to join Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Syria, but had been released early in December. Some 15 suspects detained in connection with the shootings are said to be members of a hardline Islamist network. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

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