This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

A debate has been sparked in Austria recently regarding new anti-terror measures, specifically anti-ramming attacks. Austria’s chancellery halted the construction of anti-terror walls outside its office in Vienna after critics slammed the government for failing to provide similar protective measures in main tourist areas.

Works began last month to build five large concrete blocks — each 8m long, 80cm high and 1m wide — outside the historic Hofburg palace which houses the offices of the chancellor and the president, according to The barriers were intended to withstand potential ramming attacks by vehicles, used as weapons in terror attacks across Europe over the past year.

But the €1.5 million (RM7.58 million) project sparked outrage among political opponents of Chancellor Christian Kern, ahead of a national election on Oct 15. Critics accused Kern, a Social Democrat, of double standards.

Vienna had refused to put up anti-terror structures in key tourist areas after the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, including the last event when jihadists killed 16 people using vehicles and knives in Spain in August. Officials had dismissed the barriers as “placebo measures”. While Austria has been spared the major attacks that have hit France, Belgium, Britain and Germany, the authorities have bolstered anti-terror operations since 2014.

Slovak, Hungarian, German, Austrian and Slovenian special police units attended an international anti-terror exercise held in Vienna in the beginning of September. Among the scenarios, a 134-meter long cruising ship became the scene of an international anti-terrorist exercise, with a fictional hostage situation. The fictive terrorists threatened to shoot the hostage and blow up a bomb.

80 expert Austrian police officers from the Cobra unit and another 55 from surrounding countries worked “to free hostages” from the cruise ship Viking Freya. The police officers attacked the ship from four watercraft and another 16 police officers abseiled from a Slovak helicopter, according to

The situation was monitored by the crew of an Austrian helicopter with snipers and another Slovak helicopter, informed the APA newswire. Many tourists go on cruising trips on these longboats that can carry over 250 people including crew, according to