Turkey lauds two men who helped attack victims

The men's actions drew praise from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The men's actions drew praise from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.PHOTOS: TWITTER

VIENNA/ANKARA • Two men of Turkish descent said they helped save a police officer and two women during the deadly gun attack in Vienna, actions the Turkish government on Tuesday described as heroic.

"He was lying on the ground and we ran over in a zigzag fashion," Mr Mikail Ozen, a personal trainer and mixed martial arts fighter, told journalists, pointing to the place he and his friend Recep Tayyip Gultekin said the police officer had lain.

He said two other police officers urged them to stay back for their own safety, during what Austria's government described as an Islamist terrorist attack in which four people were killed.

But he said they walked over and helped carry the injured officer to an ambulance.

Mr Ozen said: "If the same thing were to happen again today, I would do the exact same thing without a second thought. Because we live in Austria, we stand with Austria."

Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer, at a news conference, said: "It's important for me to mention that the injured police officer was brought to safety by two Austrians with an immigration background."

He did not name them.

Mr Gultekin told Turkish media that he and Mr Ozen were in Vienna city centre when they heard gunshots and saw a gunman shooting a passer-by.

"After I carried the wounded woman to a nearby restaurant, the terrorist pointed his gun at me," Mr Gultekin said, adding that he threw himself to the ground and hurt his leg.

He said they then went to the nearest police station to report the incident and helped an elderly woman to safety.

The men's actions drew praise from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose country's relations with Austria have been strained in recent years.

"Last night there were two heroes in #Vienna. Recep Tayyip and Mikail did what a true Turk and Muslim is expected to do! Thank you, young men. WE ARE PROUD OF YOU!" he wrote on Twitter.

He later told the media he conveyed Ankara's condolences to Austria and repeated his praise for the men.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2020, with the headline 'Turkey lauds two men who helped attack victims'. Print Edition | Subscribe