October 24, 2008 / 8:54 AM / 10 years ago

Ex-Vienna mayor targeted by letter bomb dies at 81

Helmut Zilk, former Vienna mayor, smiles at the beginning of a ceremony to celebrate his 80th birthday in Vienna June 6, 2007. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

VIENNA (Reuters) - Helmut Zilk, a popular former Social Democratic mayor of Vienna who was seriously injured in the 1990s by a letter bomb sent by a right-wing extremist, died on Friday of heart failure at age 81.

Vienna’s Wilhelminen hospital said Zilk died after returning ill from a vacation in Portugal.

He lost two fingers on one hand when he opened a booby-trapped letter at his home in 1993, near the end of his 10-year tenure as mayor of the Austrian capital.

Zilk was the most prominent victim in a letter-bomb campaign by a far-right extremist, Franz Fuchs, targeting Austrians who backed or represented multicultural values and minority rights.

Fuchs was arrested after four Roma people were killed in a bomb attack in 1995, and he later committed suicide in prison.

Zilk was married to Austrian stage star Dagmar Koller.

Writing by Mark Heinrich; editing by Jon Boyle

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