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CRIME

Muslim woman attacked and bitten in Vienna

The family of a Muslim woman who was attacked in Vienna on Tuesday by an unknown assailant have told police they suspect the assault was motivated by Islamophobia.

Muslim woman attacked and bitten in Vienna
The woman had swelling and bruises on her forehead. Photo: Haber Journal

The Turkish-language news magazine Haber Journal reports that the 51-year-old woman, who wears a headscarf and was named only as Mrs D., was walking to work in the 10th district when she was attacked from behind in Van-der-Nüll-Gasse, at around 6am.

Police have confirmed that they are investigating the incident, but say it’s unclear what the motive for the attack was.

Mrs D, an Austrian citizen, said she heard the sound of someone running behind her and breathing heavily as she passed the Paltram park. She said that she stopped to turn around and see what was happening but at that point a man hit her several times on the head.

She fell to the ground and he continued to attack her. She attempted to defend herself by scratching his face, but he bit her finger. When she shouted for help he ran off.

The woman called her husband, who alerted the police and Mrs D. was taken to hospital and treated for wounds on her forehead and hand. Her daughter told Haber Journal that she is still in shock. She did not want the magazine to use her full name or a picture of her face

A witness who saw the attack said the man was between 20 and 30 years old and wore a beige jacket. He didn’t say anything during the attack. The woman’s daughter said her mother smelt alcohol on his breath.

CRIME

Austrian police smash people smuggling ring

Police have smashed a group believed to have smuggled tens of thousands of people with two of them found suffocated in a truck last year, Austria's interior ministry announced on Thursday.

Austrian police smash people smuggling ring

A total of 205 people suspected to be linked to the group have been arrested in central and eastern Europe, while 80 vehicles have been seized, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said.

Of the arrests, 92 of them were in Austria, and the rest in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania.

Investigators, who began looking into the case early last year, believe the group smuggled more than 36,100 people, including children, from Hungary to Austria.

With this they raked in an estimated 152 million euros ($159 million), making this the biggest operation uncovered in Austria in recent years, according to Karner.

“This is an important success against organised crime and a serious blow to the smuggler mafia,” Karner said in a statement. Those smuggled were trying to reach western European countries, including Germany and France.

They were brought to Vienna and then smuggled on through other groups, the statement said. In one incident linked to the group, the bodies of two people were discovered last October when Austrian authorities stopped and searched a van at the border with Hungary.

Twenty-seven others were crammed in the vehicle, whose driver fled the scene, but has since been arrested in Latvia and extradited, according to the ministry. In another incident in January linked to the group, an alleged smuggler fired at an army conscript when troops tried to stop his vehicle. The man has since been arrested in Hungary. Austria this week once again extended border controls on its frontiers with Hungary and Slovenia.

Such controls provide authorities “with important insights into smuggling organisations and their procedures,” Karner said.

The European Court of Justice in April criticised Austria’s long-term controls on its border to Slovenia. It ruled that EU member states can only prolong border controls when “confronted with a new serious threat affecting its public order or its internal security”.

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