Vienna Mayor Injured in Fifth Letter Bomb Attack in Three Days
VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ A letter bomb blast injured Vienna’s mayor Sunday and two other bombs were discovered and defused, in the latest of six attacks in three days on advocates for immigrants or minorities in Austria.
The bombings raise fears of growing anti-foreigner violence. Austria has been spared the kind of xenophobic violence that has hit Germany. But such sentiment is rising, fueled partly by an influx of refugees from war-torn Yugoslavia.
Three of the six letter bombs delivered since Friday have exploded, injuring four people.
Mayor Helmut Zilk, one of the most outspoken proponents of minority rights in Austria and a popular politician, had returned to Vienna from Zurich, Switzerland, on Sunday evening and was opening his mail when the letter exploded, the Austrian Press Association reported.
Zilk, 66, was rushed to a Vienna hospital where he underwent emergency surgery for injuries to his left arm. Deputy mayor Hans Mayr said the injuries were not life-threatening.
Zilk’s wife was being treated at the hospital for shock, but was not injured in the explosion, Mayr said.
Shortly after the letter exploded in Zilk’s Vienna home, a sixth letter bomb, sent to Madeleine Petrovic, a leader of Austria’s Greens party, was discovered, police said. The letter was brought to police unopened, APA reported.
Earlier Sunday, a bomb was discovered after being sent to the leader of a Slovene community in Bad Radkersburg on the Austria-Slovene border, authorities said. An employee at the community’s headquarters became suspicious and took the letter, which had a fictitious return address, to police.
Three people were injured Friday when two letter bombs exploded. On Saturday, another letter bomb was detected before they were opened.
Austria’s President Thomas Klestil, who visited Zilk at the hospital, said he was ″deeply dismayed and appalled″ by the attack.
″This is a radicalization that we have, until now, not known in our country,″ Klestil told ORF2 television.
Vienna’s city council went into emergency session Sunday night to discuss the attack.
″From what we have seen there is a connection to the other letter bombs,″ Mayr said on ORF2 television.
All the letters were the same size and thickness and bore the same kind of postage stamp, Michael Sika, a senior federal police official, told ORF2 television.
Interior Minister Franz Loeschnak said Sunday he would convene a special session of the government’s anti-terrorist unit to investigate the bombs. Other bomb incidents were:
- A letter bomb was sent to Helmut Schueller, president of the humanitarian relief agency Caritas, which is heavily involved in aiding victims of the wars in Bosnia and Croatia. That bomb was detected Saturday before it was opened.
- Journalist Silvana Meixner suffered severe head injuries and facial wounds Friday when a letter addressed to her exploded at television headquarters in Vienna. A native of the former Yugoslav republic of Croatia, Meixner anchors a weekly program for ethnic minorities in Austria titled ″Homeland, Foreign Homeland.″
Meixner’s secretary was slightly injured.
- A priest, August Janisch, suffered hand and face injuries when he opened a letter bomb Friday in the town of Hartberg, 70 miles southeast of Vienna.
Janisch heads the papal relief mission in the southern state of Styria. He recently spoke out in a television interview on behalf of ethnic Albanian refugees from Serbia.