Iraqi Migrant Arrested After Arson Rampage in Austria

A policewoman patrols over a Christmas market in Salzburg on December 20, 2016, as security measures are taken after a deadly rampage by a lorry driver at a Berlin Christmas market. / AFP / APA / BARBARA GINDL / Austria OUT (Photo credit should read BARBARA GINDL/AFP/Getty Images)

A 45-year-old Iraqi migrant has been arrested after being suspected of setting multiple fires in the centre of Graz including at a district court and the city hall.

According to investigators, the attacks began at 10:40 a.m. at the district court of Graz-West with spokesman Elisabeth Dieber saying that the man sprayed what was described as an inflammable liquid in the court’s foyer and set fires before running away, Austrian tabloid Kronen Zeitung reports.

Soon after the initial arson, another fire was set in front of the Graz city hall which was witnessed by Christian Köberl, spokesman for Graz’s Mayor Seigfried Nagl. “Staff saw it on video surveillance and sounded the alarm,” he told Austrian media.

Köberl claimed that three fires were set and the smoke from the fires was so thick that he could not see more than half a metre in front of his face.

The suspect once again fled the scene only to emerge at the Department of Social Affairs and Family Law on the fourth floor of another government building where he once again set fires, causing 150 employees to be evacuated from the building.

The final arson attack took place at the nearby Graz central railway station where the suspect was eventually caught by police who had mobilised a large-scale deployment including deploying a helicopter.

No injuries have been reported as a result of the fires and police say that they are still unsure as to the motive for the attacks but have so far ruled out any terrorist connection.

The incident marks just the latest case of migrant violence in Austria since the height of the migrant crisis in 2015. According to a report released last year, over half of the crimes committed in the Austrian capital of Vienna involve migrants as suspects.

Attacks by migrants on government or police have also occurred in other countries affected by mass migration such as Italy where a North African migrant set fire to a police station in Mirandola. The fire led to the deaths of two people and injured more than dozen others.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.