Austrian opposition lambasts government over Vienna attack intel failure

People pass by the site of a gun attack in Vienna, Austria

VIENNA – Austria’s opposition parties lambasted the government on Thursday over its admitted mishandling of intelligence that might have prevented a deadly rampage in Vienna this week, accusing it of trying to shift the blame onto others.

A 20-year-old native of the city, who had previously been jailed for trying to join Islamic State in Syria, was shot dead by police within nine minutes of opening fire on bystanders and bars on Monday. The terrorist killed four people.

Fifteen arrests have been made since the attack, but Interior Minister Karl Nehammer conceded on Wednesday that “some things went wrong” in processing intelligence from neighbouring Slovakia in July that the attacker had tried to buy ammunition.

Nehammer and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz have also said, however, that the attacker was released from prison too soon because he fooled a deradicalisation programme as to his rehabilitation. The organisation running the programme denies that.

“I am appalled. I don’t know about surprised, but I am still very upset that it took you less than 24 hours for you, Mr Chancellor and you, Mr Interior Minister, to start blaming others in the justice system,” the head of the liberal Neos party, Beate Meinl-Reisinger, told parliament.

Nehammer and Kurz are both from the conservative People’s Party (OVP).

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