A 45-year-old Iraqi migrant who’s suspected of setting several fires in the center of Graz – Austria’s second largest city after Vienna – including ones at city hall and a district court has been arrested.
According to a report from Austria’s Kronen Zeitung, investigators have said that the arson attacks started around 10:40 am at the district court of Graz-West, with spokesperson Elisabeth Dieber mentioning that the man was seen spraying some kind of flammable fluid throughout the court’s lobby before setting it on fire and then fleeing the scene.
Just after setting fire to the district court, the suspect allegedly set another one in front of Graz’s city hall. Seigfried Nagl, a spokesperson for the city’s Mayor, told members of the Austrian media, “The staff saw it on video surveillance and sounded the alarm.”
Christian Köberl, a witness to the second arson attack at the city hall building, asserted that three separate fires were set and that the smoke became so thick that he wasn’t able to see more than a half a meter into the distance.
After setting the city hall building ablaze, the suspect again fled the scene where he would later end up at the Department of Social Affairs and Family Law on the fourth floor of a different government building. After arriving here, he then went onto set another series of fires which ultimately led to the evacuation of 150 government employees from the building.
The final fire was set near Graz’s central train station where the suspect was ultimately apprehended by authorities who were forced to mobilize large numbers of police and even a police helicopter.
Fortunately, no injuries have so far been reported as a consequence of the fires.
Thus far, Austrian authorities remain uncertain as to the motive for the arson attacks but have yet to exclude the possibility of links to terrorism.
This violent outburst is just the latest in a long line of documented cases of migrant violence in Austria and Europe since the migrant crisis began in 2015. Kronen Zeitung reported last fall that more than 50 percent of the crimes committed in the Austrian capital of Vienna involved immigrants as suspects.
Migrant attacks on police and government buildings have occurred in other western European countries like Italy who’ve had to bear the brunt of unrelenting waves of mass immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.
In the northern Italian city of Mirandola, two people were killed and over a dozen were injured as a direct result of a North African migrant setting fire to a police station.
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