Aus­tralia shoot­ing ‘an act of ter­ror­ism,’ says PM

The China Post - - COMICS -

Aus­tralian Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turnbull said Satur­day that a Syd­ney at­tack in which a 15-yearold gun­man shot dead a civil­ian po­lice em­ployee ap­peared to have been an act of ter­ror­ism.

Po­lice said the teen, who they did not name, was shot dead in an ex­change of fire with of­fi­cers af­ter he killed fi­nance worker Curtis Cheng at close range out­side the New South Wales force’s head­quar­ters in western Syd­ney on Fri­day.

Re­ports said that the youth, who po­lice said was of Iraqi-Kur­dish back­ground and had been born in Iran, had been shout­ing re­li­gious slo­gans be­fore shoot­ing Cheng in the back of the head.

“I saw him pac­ing up and down at po­lice head­quar­ters with a gun above his head, he was yelling some­thing and dressed in a black robe,” one wit­ness told Syd­ney’s Daily Tele­graph.

Turnbull called on Aus­tralians to go about their lives as usual as they be­gin a long week­end in which two ma­jor sport­ing fi­nals will be held in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne.

“This ap­pears to have been an act of po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated vi­o­lence so at this stage it ap­pears to have been an act of ter­ror­ism. It is a shock­ing crime,” the prime min­is­ter said in Mel­bourne.

“It was a cold-blooded mur­der, tar­get­ing the New South Wales Po­lice Ser­vice. It was dou­bly shock­ing be­cause it was per­pe­trated by a 15-year-old boy.

“And it un­der­lines the im­por­tance of fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties, lead­ers be­ing very aware of whether young peo­ple are be­com­ing rad­i­cal­ized,” he said.

An­drew Sci­p­i­one, the po­lice com­mis­sioner for the state of New South Wales, of which Syd­ney is the cap­i­tal, told re­porters that in- ves­ti­ga­tors were a “long way” from es­tab­lish­ing what ex­actly prompted the at­tack, adding that the boy had no crim­i­nal history.

No Warn­ing

Aus­tralia has stepped up its ef­forts in coun­ter­ing the risk of ex­trem­ist at­tacks, lift­ing its terror threat alert to high a year ago, and Sci­p­i­one said po­lice were aware they could be tar­geted.

In Septem­ber 2014, Mel­bourne po­lice shot dead a “known terror sus­pect” who stabbed two of­fi­cers, just one day af­ter the Is­lamic State group called for Mus­lims to in­dis- crim­i­nately kill Aus­tralians.

And in De­cem­ber, Ira­nian-born self-styled cleric Man Haron Mo­nis and two hostages were killed fol­low­ing a 17-hour siege at a cen­tral Syd­ney cafe.

Sci­p­i­one said early in­di­ca­tions were that the boy was act­ing alone, and po­lice had no warn­ing of any at­tack. He said they were not sure whether Cheng was tar­geted sim­ply be­cause he had left the po­lice build­ing.

“We may never know that. But he was cer­tainly tar­geted in terms of the shoot­ing. It was a di­rect shoot­ing,” he said.

New South Wales state Premier Mike Baird said he be­lieved that the lives of oth­ers had been saved by the quick ac­tions of po­lice at the scene.

“There’s no doubt that this tragedy will echo around the world, as peo­ple try and un­der­stand how some­one so young could com­mit such a hideous crime,” Baird said, adding that his first re­ac­tion to the event had been of shock.

But he added: “We can­not let ac­tions such as this di­vide us. We can­not let hate over­take us. We have to come to­gether.”

Aus­tralia, like other

coun­tries around the world, has been grap­pling with the com­plex is­sue of the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of young peo­ple and Turnbull said it was im­por­tant to un­der­stand the crit­i­cal im­por­tance of col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Mus­lim com­mu­nity.

“We must not vil­ify or blame the en­tire Mus­lim com­mu­nity with the ac­tions of what is, in truth, a very, very small per­cent­age of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ist in­di­vid­u­als,” the prime min­is­ter said.

“The Mus­lim com­mu­nity are our ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary part­ners in com­bat­ing this type of vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.”

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