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Austria: Weapons seized in raids on opponents of virus curbs

BERLIN (AP) — Austrian authorities said Thursday they seized weapons and ammunition in raids on radical opponents of coronavirus restrictions.

The interior ministry said that the investigation stemmed from a Telegram chat group in which people discussed things such as building Molotov cocktails and bombs or buying weapons, the Austria Press Agency reported. They allegedly talked about using firebombs against police officers.

The posts talked of violence planned for a protest in Vienna on May 15, and authorities carried out searches the previous day in various part of the country. They found weapons, including two handguns, and large quantities of ammunition as well as two swords, protective vests, helmets and radio devices.

Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said that “the paramilitary equipment is almost reminiscent of terrorist groups.”

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people were involved, but Austrian media reported that there were no immediate arrests.

Austria, like many other European countries, is emerging from months of closures and other restrictions designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Restaurants, theaters, cinemas and sports facilities reopened on Wednesday, and hotels were allowed to receive guests again. In many situations, people using facilities have to prove that they have been vaccinated, tested negative or recovered from COVID-19.

The Associated Press