Two men arrested in Switzerland visited Vienna attacker in July: Paper

Police officers patrol near the site of a gun attack in Vienna, Austria, on Nov 5, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

ZURICH (REUTERS) - The two men arrested in the Swiss town of Winterthur near Zurich last week over possible links to a jihadist shooting attack in Vienna on Nov 2 visited the attacker in July and he may have visited the Zurich region, Swiss media reported on Sunday (Nov 8).

In Vienna, a court ordered two more people to be held in custody in relation to the attack, in which four people were killed, taking the total in custody there to 10, a spokeswoman for the court told Reuters, confirming reports in Austrian media.

The Swiss reports shed a further spotlight on the once prominent industrial centre near Zurich, where officials say a now-shuttered mosque attracted preachers who espoused "hate speech". A man dubbed the "Emir of Winterthur" was sentenced to 50 months in jail in September for recruiting for Islamic State.

Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag said the two men, aged 18 and 24, travelled to Vienna between July 16 and July 20 to meet the future attacker in an unknown location, citing "two well-informed people".

The paper also said the gunman, who was shot dead by police after killing the four people in the centre of the Austrian capital, may have travelled to the canton of Zurich at some point between July 21 and Nov 2, citing the same two unnamed sources, which it did not specify further.

The SonntagsZeitung newspaper said the two men had visited the Vienna attacker this summer in his flat, without citing sources.

"It is still completely unclear whether the two men simply visited the Vienna terrorist or whether they can be linked to the attack," the paper said.

Swiss authorities have said the two men were "obviously friends" of the attacker and had met in person, but did not say when.

The Zurich cantonal police declined to comment on the reports and Zurich prosecutors could not be reached.

Austria on Friday admitted "intolerable mistakes" in the handling of intelligence on the attacker.

Vienna police said people from Germany who were being monitored by German intelligence stayed in Austria in the summer and also met the attacker there.

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