Four wounded in two knife attacks in Vienna; neighbouring Hungary PM's chief of staff shares anti-immigration FB post

Reuters |   Mar 08,2018 , 03:35 PM IST

Four wounded in two knife attacks in Vienna; neighbouring Hungary PM's chief of staff shares anti-immigration FB post
Four wounded in two knife attacks in Vienna; neighbouring Hungary PM's chief of staff shares anti-immigration FB post

Four people were seriously wounded in two knife attacks in a district of the Austrian capital, Vienna, on Wednesday evening, but a motive or any connection between the assaults was unclear, a police spokesman said.

The first of the stabbings took place at 7:45 p.m, occurred in Vienna's Second District, which includes the famous Prater Park as well as the Praterstern transport hub. It also houses much of Vienna's small Jewish community.

"A man attacked a family - a father, a mother and their 17-year-old daughter - with a knife. The three people were seriously injured and their lives are in danger," the spokesman said, adding later that they were Austrian citizens.

"And half an hour later, there was another attack ... at Praterstern and here a person was also seriously injured and their life is in danger. We do not know to what extent there is a connection here and any motive remains unclear," he said.

Asked what was known about an assailant, he added: "Absolutely nothing. We know we are looking for a man."

A male citizen of Afghanistan was later arrested in connection with the second assault, but no further details were immediately available and any connection between the stabbings remained unclear, the spokesman said shortly afterward.

Vienna has not experienced deadly attacks by Islamist militants like the ones that have struck Paris, Berlin and Brussels since 2015.

Meanwhile, Facebook on Wednesday reversed a decision to take down a video posted by a Hungarian political aide that blamed crime on immigrants, saying it was making an exception to its usual ban on hate speech.

The incident was the latest test of how Facebook, the world's largest social media network, and other internet firms will negotiate the tricky business of refereeing online political content.

The video was posted to Facebook on Tuesday by the chief of staff to the Hungarian prime minister. It focused on crime in neighbouring Austria and blamed immigrants for pushing out "white Christians".

Janos Lazar, the top aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who himself was called a racist by the U.N. human rights chief this week, accused Facebook of censorship after the social network removed his post.

In the video Lazar posted to his page, he addresses the camera in a street in Favoriten, the district of Vienna with the most foreigners living in it.

"Disorder is much higher, there is much more dirt and litter in the streets and the few Viennese still living here say that crime is a lot higher and people are living in bigger fear," Lazar says, accompanied by downbeat piano music and shots of Muslim immigrants.

"If we let them in and they are going to live in our towns, the result will be crime, poverty, dirt and impossible conditions in our cities," Lazar said.

The Social Democrats (SPO), who govern Vienna in coalition with the Greens, rejected the comments, saying they were part of a "racist and xenophobic election strategy" by Orban's Fidesz party ahead of April 8 elections.



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