German police search homes of four suspected of ties to Vienna attacker

BERLIN (Reuters) - Police on Friday searched homes and businesses in Germany linked to four people believed to have had ties to the man who went on a deadly rampage in Vienna this week, officials said.

The town sign of Pinneberg near Hamburg is pictured November 6, 2020, after German police started searches in several German towns in connection with four people believed to have ties to the suspected Vienna attacker who killed four people when he opened fire on bystanders and bars on Monday. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

The 20-year-old convicted jihadist who killed four people on Monday was shot dead by police within minutes of opening fire on bystanders and bars. He was later identified as Kujtim Fejzulai, a native of Vienna.

“There is no initial suspicion that the four people affected by today’s measures took part in the attack but there are believed to have been links with the suspected attacker,” Germany’s BKA criminal police said on Twitter.

The BKA said a federal judge had issued search warrants for the homes and businesses in the German towns of Osnabrueck, Kassel and in the district of Pinneberg near Hamburg after the Austrian judiciary transferred some of its findings on the attack to German prosecutors.

The suspects had had contact with Fejzulai online and had met him in person, Germany’s interior ministry said. Nobody was arrested as part of Friday’s searches, it added.

Related Coverage

Austrian authorities have arrested 15 people who interior ministry officials said were part of the radical Islamist scene.

Prosecutors have asked for eight of those 15 to be remanded in custody, a spokeswoman for the prosecutors office said.

Those were “strongly suspected of having contributed to or committed the crime of involvement in a terrorist group or criminal organisation,” the office added.

Austria’s interior and integration ministers have also ordered the closure of “radical mosques” after the attack, Austrian news agency APA reported on Friday.

Switzerland has arrested two men in connection with the attack. Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said on Thursday Austria was in close contact with another unspecified country in its investigation.

Reporting by Michelle Adair and Christian Kraemer in Berlin and Michael Shields in Zurich; editing by Thomas Seythal and Andrew Heavens