Police arrested a 33-year-old Austrian man after he tried to gain access to the country’s parliament while armed with a machete, claiming he only wanted to talk.
The incident took place on Tuesday morning at the Ballhausplatz, just outside the official offices of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and saw the man detained after asking a passerby for directions to the nation’s parliament.
The Austrian parliament was relocated to the Hofburg palace down the street from the Chancellery in 2017 due to renovation work in the historic Austrian parliament building that is expected to be completed by the end of this summer.
After speaking to the 33-year-old, the passerby informed police of the man’s strange behaviour. Armed officers then approached the man, secured the machete, and arrested him, Kronen Zeitung reports.
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Police spokesman Daniel Fürst said that investigators have no current statement on the motive for the 33-year-old’s actions, but noted: “There was no threat to the parliamentary operation.” The man is said to be an Austrian citizen.
Eyewitnesses claim that the truck belonging to the man had a Lower Austrian license plate and that paper containing parliamentary email addresses was found in the truck.
The arrest comes just days after protests against the national Wuhan coronavirus lockdown in Vienna, with dozens gathering at the Albertinaplatz for around two hours on Friday and another protest taking place on Saturday.
Further protests have been organised for May 1st, including an Austrian University Students’ Union (ÖH) demonstration with an anticipated 500 participants.
While events with large crowds are prohibited under the coronavirus lockdown measures, Austria has begun moving to open up in recent weeks with shopping centres and other businesses being allowed to open with certain social distancing and mask-wearing requirements.