VIENNA, March 15 (Reuters) – Vienna police stepped up armed patrols at sensitive sites in the Austrian capital including churches on Wednesday after the country’s domestic intelligence agency received information suggesting an Islamist attack was being planned.
“How long this heightened protection of sites will last cannot currently be estimated,” Vienna police said on Twitter, adding that if the threat could be narrowed down to a specific location it would immediately issue a warning.
Vienna’s police force urged residents not to share images or videos of officers or to spread rumors about operations.
Police said that it could not yet be established how long the enhanced security measures would be in place.
“Police officers are equipped with bulletproof helmets and vests and assault rifles. They will carry out surveillance activities and also carry out checks in road traffic,” police spokesman Markus Dittrich told the Radio Wien station.
Catholic churches stay open
Michael Prüller, a spokesman for the archdiocese of Vienna, told the Associated Press (AP) that Catholic churches did not appear to be the main target.
“We do not appear to be primarily affected,” the spokesman said. “While we were informed by police about the general threat, we were also told that there is no imminent danger for Catholics.
The archdiocese has “decided to keep (its) churches open to the public and celebrate all church services as planned for the time being,” he said.
AP reported that St Stephen’s Cathedral, located in downtown Vienna, was packed with believers and tourists on Wednesday.