Knife­man killed by po­lice af­ter ter­ror at­tack

Sus­pected Isil fa­natic leaves one pedes­trian dead and two oth­ers in­jured on busy Mel­bourne street

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By Jonathan Pearl­man in Syd­ney

PO­LICE be­lieve a deadly stab­bing spree in Mel­bourne by a So­mali-born Aus­tralian man was an act of ter­ror­ism, pos­si­bly de­signed to co­in­cide with the ex­plo­sion in the city cen­tre of a ve­hi­cle filled with gas cylin­ders.

In an at­tack de­scribed by the state pre­mier as an “act of evil”, the man drove a util­ity ve­hi­cle down Bourke Street, one of the city’s busiest thor­ough­fares, and then stopped and ap­par­ently set it alight be­fore stab­bing pedes­tri­ans.

One per­son was killed and two, aged 26 and 58, were in­jured.

The man was named by Mel­bourne’s Her­ald Sun as Mo­hamed Khalif, 31, whose 21-year-old brother was ac­cused of plot­ting a mass mur­der on New Year’s Eve at Fed­er­a­tion Square last year – a city cen­tre hub and pop­u­lar tourist spot.

Footage taken by wit­nesses showed the man lung­ing with a large knife at po­lice, who shot him in the chest and killed him. By­standers were yelling at po­lice: “Just shoot him, just shoot him.”

Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (Isil) claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack through its news out­let, Amaq,

The in­ci­dent be­gan on Fri­day about 4.30pm, as streams of peo­ple were shop­ping and head­ing home.

Some pedes­tri­ans – in­clud­ing one with a shop­ping trol­ley, now la­belled “trol­ley man” – at­tempted to fend off the at­tacker.

When po­lice ar­rived, the as­sailant punched one of­fi­cer through the car win­dow and ap­peared to show lit­tle fear as he re­peat­edly tried to stab them.

Some wit­nesses claimed that the man, who was tall and wear­ing a long, dark coat, was yelling “Al­lahu ak­bar”, but po­lice said this was not con­firmed.

“He seemed to be wav­ing some­thing, peo­ple around me screamed that he had a knife,” a wit­ness told ABC News. “And then I heard one loud bang. It sounded like a gun­shot.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Her­ald Sun, the at­tacker was also known as Has­san Shire and his wife has been rad­i­calised. It said his pass­port had been can­celled for sev­eral years and he was one of 300 “per­sons of in­ter­est” in the state.

Gra­ham Ash­ton, Vic­to­ria Po­lice’s Chief Com­mis­sioner, said that the man moved from So­ma­lia to Mel­bourne’s north-west sub­urbs in the 1990s and was known to coun­tert­er­ror­ism agen­cies through his “fam­ily as­so­ci­a­tions”. He said: “From what we know of that in­di­vid­ual, we are treat­ing this as a ter­ror­ism in­ci­dent.”

Mr Ash­ton said the man had con­vic­tions for cannabis use, theft and driv­ing of­fences, but not for vi­o­lent of­fences. He said there was not be­lieved to be an on­go­ing threat.

Mel­bourne has ex­pe­ri­enced nu­mer­ous ter­ror at­tacks and plots in re­cent years. In 2009, au­thor­i­ties con­ducted raids in the city and charged five So­mali-born Aus­tralian men sus­pected of ter­ror­ism of­fences. Three were later con­victed of plan­ning to at­tack an army bar­racks.

Daniel An­drews, the pre­mier of Vic­to­ria, con­demned the lat­est at­tack as an “act of evil”. He said: “We’ll not, as a city and a state, be de­fined by this act of evil.”

The in­ci­dent hap­pened as the trial be­gan of James Gar­ga­soulas, who is ac­cused of killing six peo­ple in Bourke Street last year af­ter al­legedly de­lib­er­ately driv­ing through them with a car. Mr Gar­ga­soulas, 28, who was in a drug­in­duced psy­chosis at the time, has pleaded not guilty.

Po­lice do not be­lieve the at­tacks were linked.

Screen­shots taken from a video show po­lice in Mel­bourne tack­ling a man armed with a knife in Bourke Street yes­ter­day. By­standers were yelling at po­lice: ‘Just shoot him, just shoot him’. The at­tacker, later named as Mo­hamed Khalif, was shot in the chest and killed

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